From Russia, without Love

By Sailer, Steve | The American Conservative, October 8, 2007 | Go to article overview

From Russia, without Love


Sailer, Steve, The American Conservative


[Eastern Promises]

"EASTERN PROMISES" is a violent, sentimental, and efficient Russian immigrant mob movie with an overpowering star performance from Viggo Mortensen as Hollywood's favorite kind of hero, the dangerous man with a heart of gold. He plays the new chauffeur of a London-based Russian mafia family trafficking in sex slaves from the Old Country.

Veteran art house goremeister David Cronenberg considerately telegraphs each grotesque throat-slitting far enough in advance that I could close my eyes until it was over, except for one naked knife fight in a Turkish bath that must have gone on even longer than the similar scene in "Borat."

Cronenberg's most popular film with the public was 1986's "The Fly," with Jeff Goldblum as a mad scientist sprouting bristly black fur due to an experiment gone terribly wrong. In contrast, critics adored Cronenberg's 2005 action movie with the pretentious title, "A History of Violence." Cronenberg cast as the small-town nice guy who isn't whom he seems the half-Danish Mortensen, along with the uber-WASP William Hurt (a stepgrandson of Henry and Clare Booth Luce) as his Philadelphia mafioso brother who pulls him back in. (Exactly which Philly crime family was left vague: perhaps the notorious Anglo-Scandinavian Main Line Mob?)

The implausible casting was a nudge to rapturous critics to over-interpret this dopey little shoot-'em-up not as a normal gangster flick but as a profound anti-Bush allegory about the unspeakable violence that underlies American history etc. etc.

Unfortunately, "A History of Violence" seemed perpetually a bit off, as if Cronenberg had never been to a small town. I saw it at a $3 theater and the low-budget Saturday night crowd gave it the raspberry, hooting at its phony twists.

Cronenberg's latest crime-family thriller collaboration with Mortensen, "Eastern Promises," is a sizable improvement. It might be almost as preposterous as "A History of Violence," but its less familiar setting amidst Russians in London makes it easier to enjoy than Cronenberg's clankingly inept vision of Middle America.

"Eastern Promises" raises politically incorrect questions about why we would want so many newcomers that immigrant mafias become inevitable. Cronenberg explained his opposition to immigrants failing to assimilate to the New York Times: "At its worst, it's you come and you live there, but you live in a little ghetto of your own culture that you brought with you. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

From Russia, without Love
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.