To have the opportunity to get up close to a Master of the genre is one of the real pleasures of being over here covering the festival. But to run into three legendary horror directors all in the space of one day, well frankly that's kinda mind-blowing... Welcome to Day 3 of my TIFF experience!
So I was the only one of our party who managed the early start, but there was no way I was going to miss Eastern Promises, the new film from David Cronenberg, even if it meant I had to be at the Varsity by 8:15am. Despite the early hour the cinema was packed with industry figures curious to see what the Canadian master had come up with this time. Eastern Promises is very much a logical progression on from his last film, A History Of Violence. Based on a screenplay by Steve Knight (Dirty Pretty Things) it's set in London and focuses on a Russian crime outfit headed by Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl) and his two sons (Viggo Mortensen and Vincent Cassel). After a fourteen year old girl dies giving birth, a concerned nurse (Naomi Watts) investigates her background, which unwittingly gets her mixed up in a power struggle between our Russian friends. It's a gripping thriller boasting excellent performances (and accents) across the board and marks Cronenberg's most mainstream film to date. That said, there are still flashes of violence that had some of the critics in our screening audibly wincing, the most notable scene involving a nude showdown in a steam room with Viggo's character taking on a couple of rival heavies - and yes ladies, you do get to see Viggo's bum in all its glory! (Ahem, and his plums too...) Eastern Promises hits the UK in October when it premieres at the London Film Festival.
Eastern Promises - Vincent Cassel