The most beguiling aspect of Andrey Zvyagintsev's drama, what gives it its intriguing edge, is that there's a sense of something trapped, secret, hidden -- the same way Romanian writer-director Cristian Mungiu's two phenomenal features "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" and "Beyond the Hills" do. The fatal decision "Elena's" titular character makes midway through is fittingly only half-justified but no less despicable; there's just something in the icy air. "Elena" does occasionally stagnate in terms of plot momentum and depth but it's the mystical, "Vera Drake"-esque attitude of the thing that allows you to open up to its quiet cruelty while allotting enough emotional reserve that by its end you detect a certain, particularly punishing change in the dead Russian weather.
Plus the aura of Phillip fucking Glass on the soundtrack. Word up.
7 out of 10 powerplants.
the score insinuated a climax; to be honest i was taken by surprise that it ended when it did.