Movie Suggestion XXVIII: Левиафан – Leviathan
Country: Russia – 2014
Directed by: Andrey Zvyagintsev
Starring: Vladimir Vdovichenkov, Elena Lyadova, Aleksey Serebryakov.
Synopsis: It is set on a peninsula by the Barents Sea and tells the story of a man who struggles against a corrupt mayor who wants his piece of land. The screenplay is a modern reworking of the Book of Job. The producer Alexander Rodnyansky has said: “It deals with some of the most important social issues of contemporary Russia while never becoming an artist’s sermon or a public statement, it is a story of love and tragedy experienced by ordinary people” (wikipedia.com)
“On the outskirts of a small coastal town in the Barents Sea, where whales sometimes come to its bay, lives an ordinary family: Nikolai (Aleksey Serebryakov), his wife Lilya (Elena Lyadova) and their teenage son Romka. The family is haunted by a local corrupted mayor (Roman Madyanov), who is trying to take away the land, a house and a small auto repair shop from Nikolai. To save their homes Nikolai calls his old Army friend in Moscow (Vladimir Vdovichenkov), who has now become an authoritative attorney. Together they decide to fight back and collect dirt on the mayor. (imdb.com)
“Setted in corrupt small northern Russian town, that could very much be any other town, or even country, in the world, Leviathan explores the confrontation of a man against the mayor. The last wants to kick him out of his house for his own benefit.
Superb photography, superb acting, spine chilling music, solid plot and dark humor touches make Leviathan a truly rewarding experience. One of the best movies I have seen in some time. Do not let the duration discourage you, hours fly. When you glance at your watch for the first time the movie will be over.
Be ready to pity, hate and love the characters. Laugh, feel anguish and rage and enjoy this emotional roller-coaster.” (imdb.com)
“This film is not a comedy. I hope you have already got it. A very depressing tale speaking of the real life in Russia for a group of ordinary citizens who, one day, decide to fight against the powerful, ruthless, rotten state ruled by judges, prosecutors, cops and politicians bribed to the bone. With no exception.
A desperate tale where the leads are lost in advance. A hopeless story about which you can’t get out without feeling Dizzy. I myself nearly puked on the floor.” (imdb.com)
“Andrei Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan is a sober and compelling tragic drama of corruption and intimidation in contemporary Russia, set in a desolate widescreen panorama. This is a movie which seems to be influenced by the Old Testament and Elia Kazan; it starts off looking like a reasonably scaled drama about a little guy taking on big government. Then it escalates to a new plane in which man is taking on the biggest, most cruel and implacable government of all, and the final sequence of devastation must surely be influenced by the final moments of Tarkovsky’s The Sacrifice.
Leviathan is acted and directed with unflinching ambition, moving with deliberative slowness and periodically accelerating at moments of high drama and suspense. It isn’t afraid of massive symbolic moments and operatic gestures; I was fractionally sceptical about these at the time, but they live and throb in my head hours after the final credit crawl. The film incidentally features a horribly watchable performance from Roman Madyanov as a crooked mayor who resembles a hideous reincarnation of Broderick Crawford in the 1949 municipal graft classic All the King’s Men – with a hint of Boris Yeltsin. I hadn’t heard of this 51-year-old Russian performer before now. His excellent performance makes me think it’s a pity Cannes doesn’t have a best supporting actor prize.
Leviathan is a forbidding and intimidating work, a return to Zvyagintsev’s earlier themes, and away from the more domestic drama of his previous, awarding movie Elena, but it has a magnificent ambition and scope. So much cinema is content with small fry – minor themes and manageable topics. Leviathan is hunting bigger game. It is a movie with real grandeur.” (theguardian.com)
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December 15, 2014