Elena (2012) - Rotten Tomatoes

Elena (2012)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Winner of Cannes' Un Certain Regard Special Jury Prize, Elena is a gripping, modern twist on the classic noir thriller. Sixty-ish spouses Vladimir and Elena uneasily share his palatial Moscow apartment-he's a still-virile, wealthy businessman; she's his dowdy former nurse who has clearly "married up." Estranged from his own wild-child daughter, Vladimir openly despises his wife's freeloading son and family. But when a sudden illness and an unexpected reunion threaten the dutiful housewife's potential inheritance, she must hatch a desperate plan.... Masterfully crafted by award-winning Russian filmmaker Andrey Zvyagintsev (Golden Globe nominee The Return) and featuring evocative, Hitchcockian music by Philip Glass, Elena is a subtly stylish exploration of crime, punishment and human nature. -- (C) Zeitgeistmore
Rating: Unrated (for thematic elements, violence, language and smoking)
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Oleg Negin, Andrey Zvyagintsev
In Theaters:
On DVD: Oct 30, 2012
Box Office: $0.2M
Zeitgeist Films - Official Site


Elena Lyadova
as Katerina
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Elena

Critic Reviews for Elena

All Critics (60) | Top Critics (21)

Sturdy performances, fine photography from Mikhail Krichman, good use of music by Philip Glass and a pleasingly terse script make for incisive, gripping drama.

Full Review… | October 16, 2012
Time Out
Top Critic

In different hands, "Elena" might have been a noir thriller, but this serving of cinematic borscht is as cold as a Russian winter.

Full Review… | August 10, 2012
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

"Elena" is a riveting psychological suspense film.

Full Review… | July 19, 2012
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

A chilly noir about the beaten paths and icy ruts of Russian life in the capital, post-Communism. In a land of schemers, Elena suggests, the urban cloisters of Moscow's elite are as self-sealing as the lowly masses' stifling Soviet-era flats.

Full Review… | May 6, 2013
Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)

The kind of family drama that gives family dramas a good name.

Full Review… | January 4, 2013
Antagony & Ecstasy

Though very Russian, there is an extremely universal story at the heart of this film ...

Full Review… | November 14, 2012
Birmingham Post

Audience Reviews for Elena

An intriguing drama of fascinating moral complexity and ambiguity. Through an elegant direction that makes use of several long takes, it efficiently presents the everyday life of the main character and the drastic choices she decides to make in view of some difficult circumstances.

Carlos Magalh„es

Super Reviewer

'Elena'. A beautifully reserved piece of filmmaking exploring the class divide in modern Moscow.

The direction is meticulous, patient and purposeful, capturing little moments and stunning imagery. A most memorable, simple score does wonders too.

c0up †

Super Reviewer

"Elena," third feature film from Russian director Andrei Zvyagintsev, is a genuine work of art, but it's not a particularly good one. Zvyagintsev thinks deeply about the human condition and brings a real artistic eye to this story of post-Soviet class formation.

But his minimalist style is underwhelming here. I didn't end up caring about the characters very much. And I think this was because of Zvyagintsev's cold style of direction and minimalist approach to story development.

He strips things to the bone, which heightens the moral issues at play. But it also denudes the film. It strips the human dimension away.

The eponymous main character is a nurse from a lower-class background who ends up marrying a wealthy patient for whom she is caring. Trouble ensues when her feckless grandson needs financial help to get into college and avoid service in the Army. Elena wants her husband to bribe the college admissions counselors. Her rich husband wants to teach the boy a lesson by not rescuing him. Conflict arises. Big time.

I won't tell you how things turn out, but I will say that something gruesome happens.

I love this basic story. I just wish Zvyagintsev was talented enough to bring it alive in a brutally compelling way. But he is not. The film is ultimately quite flat. The minimalism feels more flaccid and diffuse than incisive and penetrating. A disappointment. But it's a real pleasure to see a filmmaker with a global following bringing a serious story like this to the screen. Even when his films don't fully succeed, Zvyagintsev is a far more valuable filmmaker than someone like Tim Burton.

Bill D 2007
William Dunmyer

Super Reviewer

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