London. After An History of Violence that was set in a typical middle-sized American town, David Cronenberg goes a little further into violence by chosing the City as a playground.
A mid-wife gives birth to a baby, whose mother, a Russian prostitute, dies abruptly. The mid-wife discovers her diary, from which she tries to investigate further on what happenned. Her quest will lead her into the world of the Russian mafia in London.
The Promises of Shadows takes us in a violent universe that seems very realistic, with a backdrop of prostitution, endless revenges, set among other places in a high-end luxurious Russian restaurant lacking a facade.
Astonnishly acted out by its cast, the synopsis introduces us to the mafia in all her aspects, its violence, code of honnor and initiatory rituals...On the top of that, a crusty actors' duo: Vincent Castel plays the son of the head of the gang, machiavelian and alchoholic whereas Viggo Mortensen is excellent in his interpretation of a cold, dark but also likeable man.
Very well done, this thriler has a couple of violent scenes that may choc the most sensitive members of the audience, but it is no excuse to deprive yourself of a movie that live up to all its promise.
Guillaume de Pauw / Translation : Juliette Abbesse