A few nights back the boyfriend decided to sit me down and make me watch Eastern Promises. For some reason I could not get the idea out of my head that this movie was a western. I was very far from right. This movie takes place in London and is about a midwife (Naomi Watts) who delivers a baby and loses the mother. Watts grows attached to the baby because she has recently lost a baby of her own and spends the movie trying to find out something about the babies family all based out of a diary she found from the mother that is all written in Russian.
Typically I would do a play by play review of the movie, what I thought was bad, what I thought was good, but in this case the boyfriend and I ended up in a debate and I am curious to know others opinions.
Kirill (Vincent Cassesl), the son of the Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl) head of the Russian mafia, seems to have homosexual tendencies. The audience is never finally apprised to whether or not he is gay but it seems that the insinuation is that he is. My boyfriend however did not catch on to this so I am turning to you, is Kirll supposed to be thought of as gay?
My first clue that he was gay was the scene where he is trying to get Nikolai Luzhin (Viggo Mortensen), to sleep with one of the women that they have at the house. He constantly asks him if he is a queer and when Nikolai finally agrees to sleep with one of them Kirril finds the need to watch. This seems to be a projection of his own homosexual feelings on to Nikolai. Clealrly he feels that by sleeping with these girls it means that a person is not gay which the audience knows is not the case. Merely sleeping with them does not remove homosexuality it is merely a cover.
Another reason why it seems he is gay is because he chooses to have a man killed because he is spreading rumors that he is gay. Kirill is so worried about these rumors being spread that he goes behind his father’s back and sabotages the family reputation in order to stop these rumors. It would seem that he is so afraid of these rumors because they are in fact true. If they were not it would seem that he would have been able to either ignore the rumors or confront the person rather than having him killed at a barber shop.
Finally, Kirill’s entire relationship with Nikolai is suspect. Nikolai seems to be his protector throughout the movie and they have a very close relationship. Nikolai takes care of Kirill when he is drunk and he is the one who is able to calm him down when he gets upset. At the end of the movie when Nikolai tries to convince him to give the baby to Watts Nikolai embraces him from behind and sooths his crying. This scene seems to be Nikolai taking adavantage of Kirill’s homosexual tendencies and using them in order to get the baby safe.
The movie never sits on whehter or not he is actually gay and this leaves me to question if I am making all this up or if this is actually in the movie. I went and searched some other blogs and here are some of their opinions:
“With his new film, the violent Russian mob drama Eastern Promises, Cronenberg has once again elected to explore homosexuality, this time in the context of a patriarchal, aggressive crime underworld. In including a deeply closeted gay mobster in his colorful ensemble, Cronenberg is, on the one hand, giving us another in an unfortunately rich cinematic history of gay villains. But the film’s refusal to condemn the character for his sexuality or to associate his sexuality with his criminality is notable, and the sensitivity with which the story is explored is unexpected and refreshing.” Brian Juergen at http://www.afterelton.com/movies/2007/9/easternpromises
“I do agree with some of the points above, about Kirill being trouble and divided, it being good that the movie doesn’t condemn the character for his sexuality, and Nikolai’s sexual ascendancy. Also, about all this being a bit stale about ‘ooohhh he is homosexual!’; covering old hostilities and prejudices and stereotypes within mafia may bit a bit stale and how it is handled, it could have been do a bit more quicker and less ‘big issue.’ There isn’t a lot of information. And the movie is about that, not knowing everything about the characters, but I guess it was necessary.” Spanengish Ramblings at http://spanengrish.blogspot.com/2007/12/homosexual-analysis-of-eastern-promises.html
What do you think? Was Kirill supposed to be believed to be gay? Was it meant to be ambigious? Am I reading way too much into this? Leave me a comment and let me know.