Eastern Promisesis a 2007 thriller film directed by David Cronenberg , from a screenplay written by Steven Knight . The film tells of a British midwife's interactions with the Russian Mafia in London and stars Viggo Mortensen , Naomi Watts and Vincent Cassel . Principal photography began November 2006, in locations in and around London. The film has been noted for its plot twist , the subject of sex trafficking , and for its violence and realistic depiction of Russian career criminals, which includes detailed portrayal of the tattoos commonly worn by them.
Eastern Promisesreceived positive critical reception, appearing on several US critics' "top ten films" lists for 2007. The film has won several awards, including the Audience Prize for best film at the Toronto International Film Festival and the Best Actor award for Mortensen at the British Independent Film Awards . The film received twelve Genie Award nominations and three Golden Globe Award nominations. Mortensen was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor .
Anna Khitrova ( Naomi Watts ), a British-Russian midwife at a London hospital, finds a Russian-language diary on the body of Tatiana, a 14-year-old girl who dies in childbirth. She also finds a card for the Trans-Siberian restaurant, which is owned by Semyon ( Armin Mueller-Stahl ), a boss in the Russian Mafia orvory v zakone("thieves in law") . Anna thus sets out to track down the girl's family so that she can find a home for the dead mother's baby girl. Anna's mother Helen ( Sinéad Cusack ) does not discourage her, but Anna's Ukrainian uncle and self-described former KGB worker, Stepan ( Jerzy Skolimowski ), whom Anna asks for help with the translation of the diary, urges caution. Through Semyon and her uncle, Anna comes to learn that Semyon and his unstable son, Kirill ( Vincent Cassel ), had abused the girl, addicted her to heroin, forced her into prostitution, and raped her.
Semyon's driver is Russian Nikolai Luzhin ( Viggo Mortensen ), who also serves as the family "cleaner", dumping bodies in the River Thames. Through Nikolai, Semyon promises to give the location of the girl's family to Anna if she hands back the diary, fearing prosecution. Nikolai takes the diary from Anna and her family but does not give a location, instead urging Anna to keep the baby in the UK as the girl's home is a bad village to grow up in. Semyon distrusts Anna's uncle Stepan due to his former position and ethnicity, ordering a hit on him. Nikolai accepts and soon Stepan goes missing. As Nikolai's star rises within thevory, an impressed Semyon sponsors him as a full member, due in part to Nikolai's protection of Semyon's bumbling son who authorized a hit on a rival Chechen vory leader. The hit was not approved by Semyon and was ill-advised; the Chechen gang are now coming to London to seek vengeance. Semyon hatches a plan to trick Nikolai into temporarily taking Kirill's place during a meeting with a kurd named Azim, who carried out Kirill's hit, at the baths. As the Chechens attack Nikolai thinking he is Kirill, Nikolai kills them both, ending up in the hospital with severe wounds as a result.
It is then revealed that Nikolai is actually an FSB agent who has infiltrated the gang, working under license by the British Government. As part of his undercover duties, Nikolai was able to read Tatiana's diary before Semyon had it destroyed and hatched a plan to have Semyon arrested for statutory rape. Stepan is also safe, hiding in a 5-star hotel in Edinburgh for protection. Semyon orders Kirill to kidnap the baby girl and kill her but as Kirill sits by the Thames, almost unable to throw the little girl into the river, Nikolai and Anna find him and persuade him to give the baby back. Nikolai and Kirill embrace as Nikolai tells him that his father is finished and they are now the bosses. Nikolai and Anna then kiss as they part for the last time. Nikolai then takes Semyon's place as boss of the organization and Anna gains custody of Tatiana's baby, whom she names Christine.