Eastern Promises (2007)

Reid, 15. November 2007, 20:57
Dir. David Cronenberg

There’s an decent and entertaining storyline to this, but I didn’t think it was good as the impression I got from critics. (I also didn’t think that History of Violence was that great either.) Then again, I started appreciating more elements of the film as I thought about it.

One of the things I realized was Cronenberg’s decision to shoot a fight scene with the main character, played by Viggo Mortensen, in the nude. It occurs in the a steam room and I didn’t realize the purpose of it (although the scene stayed with it). At least part of the reason I think Cronenberg made this decision was to indicate the violence is part of our primal nature and how that nature is still very alive in all of us–perhaps more in men. The scene is an interesting way to communicate that idea.

At the end of the film we see a shot of Naomi Watts taking care of the baby she’s adopted and Viggo sitting in a restaurant as the new “godfather.” I felt like Cronenberg was saying that violence, ambition and work are essential driving forces in men, while the maternal instinct is the power that drives women. Regarding the latter, I don’t think this was meant as a sexist anti-feminist gesture, as Watts’ character is a strong powerful woman. What drives her character–to do some brave, even reckless things–is her maternal instinct. It’s as if Cronenberg wants to say these are primal forces that drive women and men.

While I like the fact that Cronenberg communicates these ideas within a straightforward and decent story, it’s a little banal for me to get really excited about. I had a simliar reaction to History of Violence. Now, Crash, on the other hand, I thought was bold and way more interesting.

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