Leviathan is long and grim but never slow and never dull.  Russia’s lower Arctic is beautifully photographed, capturing a perpetual half-light.  In this setting Kolya, alcoholic handyman, is at war in court with a developer who wants his treasured property and also happens to be mayor and has a prominent picture of Vladimir Putin on his office wall.

SPOILER ALERT:  Kolya has a wife Lilya who will surprise us by being unfaithful with Kolya’s lifelong best friend and current lawyer, Dima.   Kolya’s son Roma (this wife is his stepmother) loves his father, worries about his drinking and resents his stepmother.  At fifteen he is at a highly vulnerable age and unable to evade the adult behavior surrounding him and tearing him apart.

In an imdb user review  martin_ee1986 knowingly writes:  “Be ready to pity, hate and love the characters.”  As the tale unfolded, I found myself seeing the manipulative, corrupt and drunken mayor as a human being, and not always an unlikeable one  —  Roman Madyanov in an outstanding, profoundly moving performance.

The film’s use of Philip Glass’ Akhnaten (Act 1 “Prelude”) is extraordinary.

Leviathan, which won this year’s Golden Globe as best foreign film, was Russia’s entry in the Oscar derby for the same category.

Aleksey Serebryakov as Kolya
Elena Lyadova as his wife Lilya
Vladimir Vdovichenkov as his son Roma
Sergey Pokhodaev as his friend Dima
Roman Madyanov as Vadim, the mayor
Anna Ukolova as Lilya’s friend Angela

Andrey Zvyagintsev

Until then,
See you at the movies,


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