The first scene
In Eastern Promises, from the very first glance we get the slight notion that this would be a typical Film Noir film. The music is very slow and mysterious, so the audience can get an idea that there will be some mystery involved throughout the movie. You can hear violins in the music, which is quite a typical Film Noir instrument. So that gives us an even bigger idea what genre the film will be.
After watching the first scene of the film we understand, although it is a little more gory than usual, that it already includes conventions within the opening 90 seconds. It has the rainy streets which are key to portraying a Noir film; murder, which a conventional Film Noir will not usually go without; and the darkness. The first scene is one that is especially dark to set the whole tone of the film. I would say that there are darker scenes, however it does give us an idea of what the rest of the movie will entail.
The plot is based around the Russian Mafia in London, and the secrets that they are hiding and trying to keep hidden from our female character. All this, and a police investigation is taking place into who has been murdered and why. It wouldn’t be a Film Noir without some investigation taking place, so this one is no different.
The characters throughout the film vary. There are two clear main characters, Nikolai and Anna. Although some may argue that Kirill and Semyon are also main characters.
Nikolai’s role changes throughout the film, at first we see him only as the man who drives the cars. Although further into the course of the film, Nikolai becomes our stereotypical ‘man with no future’ because the man we thought to be a Russian Mafia member, is in fact an FBI agent who has infiltrated the gang, working under license by the British government. Which makes the film both conventional and unconventional, because it is usual for the plot to have the main protagonist as the investigator and the often solve or in some cases not solve the murder or whatever the case may be. However, in this film Nikolai was almost always the ‘bad guy’, and the fact that we only found out towards the end that his character wasn’t who we thought he was, makes the whole film a lot more mysterious, yet more like Film Noir stereotypically is. This in turn makes us piece together all the parts of the movie that didn’t exactly make sense, for example: Nikolai kissing Anna, we didn’t think it would happen when we first saw these two have conflict because they’re on complete opposite sides of the story, yet because we learn that in fact Nikolai isn’t who we thought he was, makes the film make more sense.
Anna also has quite a confusing archetype, because although me knowing this was a neo noir film, at first I thought she was the conventional ‘Femme Fatale’. However as the film went on it all got more confusing as she doesn’t seem to intentionally try to hinder Nikolai, like a stereotypical Femme Fatale would. Although actions she takes do put Nikolai’s position in the film in jeopardy. Which, if she was a femme fatale, we would expect. I on the other hand don’t believe that is he role in the movie, I believe her full intention is as a midwife to find the baby a home, even though she gets wrapped up in something bigger. In addition, Anna has no dark past, which would go against the conventions for a femme fatale.
Something that is key for a Film Noir film, is dark/gloomy lighting, which this film has no shortage of, due to the film rarely being shot in the day and if it is it is usually raining or cloudy to create a stereotypical atmosphere (which you can tell from the trailer above).
Unconventionally though, the film is English which tends to not be the case. Most Film Noirs are American because that’s where they started off in the lad 1940’s. You can tell because of Anna’s accent in the trailer.