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Eastern Promises (2007) Dir David Cronenberg. Hull CineWorld

“David Cronenberg’s use of violence in his movies displays barely disguised sadism”. The Daily Mail.


Oh purleese! When are the media going to just darn well grow up. Cronenberg is a responsible and serious filmmaker who makes the viewer sit up and take notice of the human condition, and our motives, by taking seemingly mundane characters and placing them in extraordinary situations as exemplified in 2005’s A History of Violence in which an ordinary guy is sucked into a vortex of spiralling horrors which challenge his self image as a decent man.


In this film Anna is a genuinely good person, a midwife of Anglo- Russian extraction who becomes involved with the London based Russian Mafia when she delivers the child of a sex worker who dies during the birth. Anna finds the girl’s diary and so begins a journey into the dark side as she attempts to trace the baby’s family back home. Ken Loach meets Goodfellas.


Yes, the violence is strong and as you get with the Cronenberg style, it is very close up and visceral. It feels intense and personal, and there is no soundtrack or multi shot approach to dilute the base horror of what is going on. Sound is the key and every slap and crunch is present. I looked away during the bathhouse scene, which is unusual for me.


But the scene is very necessary, and we are forced to acknowledge that this stuff goes on in our country, and the Government needs to get a grip and manage (not “control” which has become, thanks to the Mail, a flammable word in the hands of the Tories) this influx from the Eastern Bloc in order to protect the people involved, and this film shows that we have singularly failed in this quest.


Anna proves to be an underdeveloped character. I wanted to know more about her because her fascination with the Viggo Jensen character must have been based on some life experience, as he is so brilliantly repellent otherwise.


Jensen is excellent as the gangster, but there is a twist which when I thought about it afterwards is a bit predictable, and to a certain extent unrealistic given the dynamics between the characters.


Overall I would say it’s not bad, but not good either as the pace is patchy. I don’t mind reflective phases but there was no end product. The first half and hour could have been done in ten minutes with no damage to the plot.


As for the controversy. As with Hostel, Vacancy, Death Proof and other films that are billed as violent. They are 18 Certs and I doubt very much that anyone would stumble into a showing on the off chance.


 Censorship is there for protection, not to control what we see and the Daily Mail should take it’s pathetic self-loathing and crawl under the nearest stone where this Right Wing, bigoted rag belongs.


About dermotrathbone

Writer and co author "Through Red Lenses". Activist Unite the Union, Save Our NHS Hull. Fan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Hull FC, Munster and Ireland Rugby. Views are mine alone and may not reflect the organisations concerned.


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