In London, a 14-year-old bruised and bleeding teenager collapses at a hospital. Hospital midwife Anna (Naomi Watts) watches helplessly as the girl dies in childbirth. Besides the orphaned infant, she leaves behind a diary that chronicles her horrific exploitation and that may contain information about the identities of those responsible for it and her child. Anna is soon obsessed with identifying these vile beasts and turning them in, exposing her to considerable danger. She soon finds herself in the middle of an underground, underworld scam in human trafficking and is at once fascinated and repelled by it. Naive and vulnerable but hopelessly determined to find the men who let that young girl die, without actually knowing it, Anna is soon entangled with the Russian mob. Where does Anna's search take her? Does she free herself from the conniving villains who are now after her?
The movie is basically about the moral scandal of slavery, the traffic in human bodies and human misery that persists, in secret and in the shadows, even in the modern, cosmopolitan West. The brutality does not make you wince in disgust; it makes you writhe in pain.
Scripted by Steve Knight and directed by David Cronenberg, Eastern Promises is a routine thriller that has been deftly transformed into something that truly pierces your mind. Like Cronenberg's earlier movies History Of Violence, Spider, The Fly and Crash, here too, we are baffled by the ideas he presents to us and the way he has packaged them all. As in the case of his scripts for movies such as Dirty Pretty and Amazing Grace, Knight proves that he is clearly as interested in the social and ethical implications of the story as he is in its twists and reversals.
While Knight tugs at your heart, Cronenberg creeps under your skin. The result is a movie that will haunt and taunt you for a long time to come.