Wednesday, March 12, 2008

"Eastern Promises", a movie whose writing gets worse and worse by the minute

Starts out with a woman going into a pharmacy, declaring she needs help, then collapsing in a pool of blood. She's rushed to the emergency room (in London) where the baby she's carrying survives while she dies on the operating table. But wait, although she has no identification she has a diary on her, that the midwife pilfers. Skip forward a few scenes and we see Anna, the midwife, at home with her mother and her uncle. Turns out that although she's completely English through and through that, yes, her father was Russian, meaning that she miraculously has relatives who can translate the diary and hopefully find the identity of the new born baby's mother. So begins Eastern Promises.

It goes from there, and a not-convincing voice over of Tatiana the mother recording in her diary how she was offered a job in England "singing at a restaurant" with no hint at suspicion, to an end where "Kirill", the son of the mob boss who's obviously come from Moscow via Glasgow because of his thick Scottish accent and stereotypical Scottish features, holding the baby in his arms after being ordered to throw it into the Thames saying "She's just a little baby! Just a little baby!" to no one in particular.

Eastern Promises, while not quite as luridly Orientalizing a film as it could have been, nevertheless follows in the footsteps of many freak show type accounts of picturesque subcultures living within the midst of 'regular society', in this case the Russian emigre population of London.

I would think that in this day and age we could dispense with this sort of voyeurism, particularly because if you want to go to Russia today from England you just have to book a hotel and get a plane ticket and then you can stare at all the Russians you want (millions of them!), but I guess not.

Next movie: Swedish Designs, an account of the strange underworld of Swedish furniture designers living in London and in New York City, complete with looks at their intriguing folksongs, their weird Lutheran religion, and interesting culinary choices. A world you never thought existed,the wild, unbelievable, underbelly of Swedish culture in England and America, "Swedish Designs"!

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