ratbastard’s review published on Letterboxd:
London-based Russian midwife ‘Anna’ delivers the baby of a drug-addicted Russian 14 year old named ‘Tatiana’. Tatiana dies during childbirth. Anna uses a diary she finds on Tatiana to contact somebody close, leading her to Russian mafia member ’Semyon’. It is revealed that Tatiana was being used as a prostitute by Semyon and his son ‘Kirill’. Seymon and Kirill’s despicable involvement in Tatiana’s life unravels, and a power struggle emerges - with Seymon’s bodyguard ‘Nikolai’ at the heart of the events.
Crime thriller from David Cronenberg. Gritty, gruesome, lurid, tense, and engaging. A fairly straightforward and contrived gangster thriller on the surface, brought to life by it’s mix of themes, direction, performances and its characters. A study on violence, abuse, morality, life / death, sexuality, and identity (Nikolai literally has his life story tattooed upon him). A real sense of physicality emerges, ultimately underlining its themes - it’s so raw, rough and perhaps best exemplified in the (notorious?) naked fight, where Nikolai essentially ascends. The performances are excellent across the board - with Mortensen particularly outstanding. Briskly paced, boasting a subtle score by Shore.