Oscar Ritual 2008 : EASTERN PROMISES
Nominated for Best Actor (Viggo Mortensen)
It was never my intent to see Eastern Promises. The only draw for me was Viggo Mortensen, but I expected the material to be so violent that I would find no enjoyment in the film. Still, my curiosity lingered, and its inclusion in the Academy Awards nomination list drew me. I have to say that I am pleasantly surprised by the film.
It’s true that the story is based on a context of violence, and Eastern Promises does have gruesome moments, but the film itself is rather quiet and almost subtle in its drama. It tells a believable story of workings within the Russian mafia in London, and Mortensen’s character is central to that story, although it is not initially apparent just how central he will become. I loved this aspect, the hidden elements to his character; they were a perfect utilization of Mortensen’s soft-spoken, steely talent, leaving no doubt that he greatly deserves the recognition he is receiving this year. It is Mortensen who carries the film, and it is his character that brings depth to the drama.
Eastern Promises is an engaging film because of its star and because of its simple mystery. It is worthy of a viewing in the same way The Godfather is worthy of viewing: whether you enjoy these types of films or not, they are compelling in a way that few modern films can boast. I shall be interested to see how well-remembered Eastern Promises becomes.
image from Rotten Tomatoes