Thursday, December 27, 2007
Cronenberg makes beautifully troubling films, and with its lush cinematography, its gorgeous performances, and its moral ambiguities, Eastern Promises ranks among his very best. Nobody is better at portraying the seamy side of life, and London's human trafficking underground proves fertile ground for Cronenberg.
Technically Eastern Promises is a masterpiece. I have not seen a film so meticulously well-lit since Sven Nyquist kicked off, and the sumptuous attention to detail rivals Scorcese's The Age of Innocence or Merchant Ivory's Remains of the Day. This is the best gangster flick since The Godfather, and the first since The Godfather which does not simply ape Coppola's approach.
If there is any justice in the world, Viggo Mortensen will carry a Best Actor Oscar home early in '08. He fully inhabits his character, and is utterly convincing as a Russian mobster. Mortensen literally lets it all hang out in a combat scene you will never forget. I think this will go down as one of the great performances of its time, and for his performance to stand out in this film says a lot, because everyone is terrific.
Watch only if you have the stomach necessary for it, however.