Eastern Promises

Rated 3.0

A London midwife (Naomi Watts), investigating the background of a Russian teenager who died in childbirth, finds herself drawn into the sinister world of the émigré Russian Mafia—especially a too-friendly restaurateur (Armin Mueller-Stahl) and his sleek, reptilian chauffeur (Viggo Mortensen). Steve Knight’s script is short on dramatic substance—his idea of Russian atmosphere is plenty of vodka, accents, and mournful choruses of “Orchi Chornya.” What the script lacks is made up for by director David Cronenberg and his cast (including Vincent Cassel as Mueller-Stahl’s unstable son and Sinéad Cusack and Jerzy Skolimowski as Watts’ Russian-born mother and uncle). The film also profits from Carol Spier’s evocative production design and the cinematography of Peter Suschitzky (both Cronenberg veterans).