Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Eastern Promises



David Cronenberg's follow-up to A History of Violence--starring the same lead, Viggo Mortensen, in a very different part--lacks the theoretical dimension of its predecessor, but it's no less masterful in its fluid storytelling and shocking choreography of violence. A Russian mafia tale with a London setting, scripted by Steven Knight (Dirty Pretty Things), it confirms Cronenberg's position as an old-fashioned, almost Dickensian moralist. He refuses to fetishize corruption the way the Godfather films do, while working wonders with a charismatic villain (Armin Mueller-Stahl in a remarkable performance) and creating a charged homoerotic atmosphere. With Naomi Watts and Vincent Cassel. R, 96 min. a River East 21. --Jonathan Rosenbaum

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