The Russian mafia or mob or brotherhood of thieves have, over the past few years, supplanted the Italian Mafia as the go-to villains du jour in most crime moves and novels. That a lot of these representations veer wildly from uncomfortable stereotypes to down right offensive parody is an issue that I have struggled with myself as a writer, a reader and a film goer. However, there are a few films that delve into the world of the Bratva with depth and nuance and a sense of the nihilism and the complex codes and traditions that make the gangster movie so watchable regardless of the nationality of the gangsters themselves.
But what a lot of people seem to forget is that Eastern Promises is a Christmas move. And not just because it’s set during the holidays. The screenplay itself can be deconstructed as a dark retelling of the original Christmas story. Anna and Nikolai are stand-ins for Mary and Joseph. They care for a baby that is not their child at great personal risk to themselves. A case can be made that Seymon and his desire to kill the child (I don’t want to give spoilers but trust me he wants this baby dead in the worst way) can be seen as a metaphorical correlation with Herod. The baby may not bring salvation to whole world but it will irrevocably change the lives of everyone in the Russian syndicate in merry olde England.
S.A. Cosby is the Anthony award winning author of My Darkest Prayer and the upcoming Blacktop Wasteland. You should buy that shit and follow him on Twitter @BlackLionKing73.