Edge

Cronenberg’s latest film fails to deliver on ‘Promises’

From the first scene of “Eastern Promises,” you may think that you’re in for a routine Cronenberg film that revels in its own explicitness. But as the director’s recent trend toward subtlety takes over, you realize that he may be best served going back to his roots.

Anna (Naomi Watts) is a midwife in London that finds a diary full of secrets, written in Russian. She takes it to be translated by Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl), a man who is as dangerous as he is powerful. Anna also meets Semyon’s driver Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen), and soon becomes entangled in a deadly web of organized crime.

David Cronenberg (“A History of Violence”) made a name for himself through strange and graphic films that challenged supporters and offended detractors. In this film, possibly his most straightforward, he drives the film at a subdued hum, only to shatter it with quick bursts of brutality. But while violence meant something in his previous films, here it seems like Cronenberg grew tired of scenes without action and disregarded the story’s tone.

The ending is particularly forced. It may work within the film’s context (because of a trite plot twist), but it is so broad and inconclusive that it poisons everything that preceded it. Which is a shame because the tense atmosphere that is created is ultimately betrayed. The film’s strongest point is Mortensen, who exudes a magnetic intensity that dwarfs everything else, including the forgettable auxiliary characters. His performance (and his scene in the bathhouse) is brilliant and should earn an Oscar nomination.

“Eastern Promises” is very similar stylistically to “A History of Violence.” But while that picture had a level of implicit depth rarely realized in film, Cronenberg’s latest is quiet yet plain, leaving little to imagine as it stumbles to an unsatisfying conclusion.

Gabe Habash may be contacted at s.habash1@umiami.edu

September 24, 2007

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

It’s the play Miami Hurricanes fans will never forget — and Florida State fans are trying to forget. ...

Miami Hurricanes fans might recall their favorite college football players in past years dreaming of ...

The new quarterback is usually the ones fans gush over. For the University of Miami, last season it ...

Debate all you want, but University of Miami football coach Mark Richt made it clearer than ever Wed ...

Last year, when University of Miami tailback Mark Walton attended the Atlantic Coast Conference Foot ...

An ACLU report authored by UM sociologists documents racial and ethnic disparities in Miami-Dade Cou ...

Following the summit between Trump and Putin, reaction from politicians, pundits and former intellig ...

A School of Communication associate professor played an important hand—an artistic one!—in World Cup ...

University of Miami law and political science professors weigh in on Trump’s SCOTUS nominee. ...

Research bioclimatologists with the UM Synoptic Climatology Lab counsel cities on how to manage risi ...

Miami senior Tyler Gauthier was named to the 2018 Fall Watch List for the Rimington Trophy presented ...

Miami junior wide receiver Ahmmon Richards was among those named to the watch list for the 2018 Bile ...

University of Miami junior running back Travis Homer was named a preseason candidate for the Doak Wa ...

Six former Canes competed on NBA Summer League teams, with three averaging at least 10 points per ga ...

Quick Hits gives University of Miami volleyball fans an opportunity to get to know the new student-a ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.