3.5, Europe, United States/Canada

Eastern Promises

2007 / David Cronenberg > If there’s one thing that Cronenberg’s always done and deserves the most praise for, it’s the respect and intelligence with which he treats his audience. Hints are dropped, arcs are drawn but most of the dots are ultimately connected by the viewer. More often than not, this technique works wonders (e.g., Crash and eXistenZ). In Eastern Promises, this technique is further refined to the point where it actually backfires a little: Considering the strength of Viggo Mortensen’s character and the underlying tension/mystery that develops throughout, the finale is anticlimactic and disappointingly flaccid. The credits brought forth no emotions in me, a fact I found disheartening after 100 minutes of stellar filmmaking. In The History of Violence, there was an emotional purge at the end that left me at peace, but here that was absent. It’s simply too clever, and I can only wish that he had added a few more minutes to extrapolate the ongoings—not for the purposes of holding my hand, but in order to find a foundation to rest the violence and stereotypes by which the film operates.