A Russian midwife living in London is disturbed by the circumstances surrounding the death of a 14-year-old, who died whilst giving birth. Her amateur invetigations lead to her to a restaurant operated by the elderly head of an organised crime family.

Cronenberg delves into the Russian mafia.

The latest offering from director David Cronenberg is Eastern Promises – a thriller set in London that delves into the dark world of underage prostitution and the Russian mafia.

as lavish as it is menacing

A 14-year-old Russian girl dies giving birth to a baby. Anna, the midwife attending the birth, decides to locate the baby’s relatives. Her quest leads her to mysterious restaurant owned and run by a sinister Russian family and it is here she meets Nikolai, the family driver slash hitman.

Eastern Promises is as lavish as it is menacing. The production values echo Cronenberg’s last film, A History of Violence and as in that film, he is once again exploring the idea of a man’s inner world being at odds with his external world.

And in typical Cronenberg fashion, the themes of truth and identity are played out against a background of sex and violence.

Viggo Mortensen is astoundingly good as the mysterious Russian driver. His accent and attention to detail is impeccable. French actor Vincent Cassel also excels as the unhinged son. Their scenes are dangerous and absorbing.

My problem with the film lies with the character of Anna played by Naomi Watts. Watts delivers another wonderful performance but I felt the character needed fleshing out"¦ Her relationship with Mortensen felt shallow and not quite believable.

At times the film felt disjointed. While some scenes were well executed and exciting, others felt half-baked.

Overall, the premise is intriguing and the performances really great. 3 stars.