October 26, 2014
While billed as a suspense film, this film stays along the dramatic side without taking any real unexpected twists or turns. As a drama though it does a brilliant job of showcasing the family dynamic of a "bad seed" always needing bailed out of something and the person who goes to extremes to always satisfy their "duty,"
March 15, 2012
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.
March 1, 2014
Another great movie by Zvyagintsev,Elena is about the life of two class in Russian society and a mother who would dealing with morality issue to protect her family. The casting, directing, performance are great, you live with the story and each shot are beautifully framed. Music comes in when its needed and set the mood. In the beginning we see two days of Elena and her husband, and each day we follow one of them to see how they pass their days. Gorgeous cinematography with very settled editing keep you in the frame and absolutely wonderful performance brings an enjoyment of watching this movie.
February 10, 2014
Slow-paced, with a simple and direct plot. It's so narrow in its plot that much of the time we are just people watching, although the bleak portrayal of ordinary Russian life and environment enhances the realism surrounding the uneasy main story. The direction feels loose much of the time and it's not clear what is relevant or not to 'Elena's' drastic actions.
January 28, 2014
Another Russian cinema verité offering from Zyvagintsev, who directed 'The Return'. Lots of nice arty still life shots litter this grim little tale of modern life in Russia. Ken Loach with less humour and more pretension. Credible but not memorable.
January 10, 2014
I do like watching drab subtitled movies. You wouldn't get a drama about a frumpy old housewife and her need to help her grandson in any Hollywwood movie. No, they'd cast Cameron Diaz as Elena. This was more real, and very absorbing, although i'm not quite sure about the fight scene at the end
December 27, 2013
Well done. Held my attention throughout . Music and suspense is superb.
October 23, 2013
Premiering in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and going on to win the Special Jury Prize...gah, that's already starting out with a bloated mouthful. Listen: I didn't know anything about "Elena" going into it. Watching it I couldn't tell where it was going to go and what point it was trying to make with the density and coldness of its images, like it was always ramping up to something greater but never does, instead opting for a glacial, naturalistic pacing and long-take camerawork. Now finally having seen it, I still couldn't say I have a complete handle on what it is it's trying to say.
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.
September 13, 2013
Life-affirming and distinctly directed--Poignant and far sighted!!
July 15, 2013
Wonderfully acted and rewarding all around. The lead in this is great. Dont expect alotof story is painfully slo but it realy worth staying with this.
June 19, 2013
A film with music by Phillip Glass that didn't make me want to vomit - a rarity indeed. This Russian show is brilliant - a stately, chilling piece of psycho-drama that had my attention from start to finish. It may be at heart a chav-phobic, reactionary work but it is so tense and compelling I didn't care all that much about the subtext.
December 4, 2012
La historia de una mujer que comete decisiones equivocadas
May 28, 2013
If you want to punish someone, make them watch this movie.
May 19, 2013
Dostoevsky on cellulose, 2012. A 'dutiful housewife' kills her arrogant millionaire husband for his inheritance to provide for her own descendants. Opens one moral gaping dilemma after another, leaving the viewer with so much to ruminate on. Russian cinema at its best.
April 14, 2013
Quiet and slow paced film that's very well made and relevant. Never boring, it has that important nerve, the build up is also pretty neat. A life drama with great acting and some changing themes. Both of the directors earlier films, "Izgnanie" and the fantastic "Vozvrashchenie" are better in most ways. This is less dreamy and feel more realistic so they really can't be put up to each other. A character-driven realistic piece that feels a bit flat and I wanted it to be more gripping really. In no way a bad film, but not a masterpiece either.
7 out of 10 powerplants.
April 7, 2013
watching the aggravating as hell deadbeat son and grandson really got the blood pressure going.
the score insinuated a climax; to be honest i was taken by surprise that it ended when it did.
March 6, 2013
Despite the daughter's beliefs that nobody is different and everyone is insignificant, Elena sacrifices her conscience to save her grandson. Little does she realize that saving him from physical danger does not protect him from a kind of war he is already a part of.
February 25, 2013
Beautiful Frames,stunning cinematography,it looks so clean as to i was actually waiting for the camera to jerk..!!! Complex Human Psychology showed in the most simple way ! BeautiFul,so soft,so subtle in its approach.Totally Impressed...!
January 21, 2013
Elena is the Bicycle Thieves of a century of video games, divided families, and distributed promise.
November 28, 2012
I have no idea how this happened, but in one short week on Netflix Instant Watch I was able to watch two great films, the Norwegian film Oslo, August 31st and acclaimed Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev (The Return) new Russian thriller
Elena which I proclaim as a masterpiece. The film is brilliantly crafted and engrossing from start to finish, it's very much a modern day Hitchcock thriller. The film is about a Middle-aged woman named Elena, who's a meek wife to her emotionally distant second husband, Vladimir. When he decides to leave his riches to his estranged daughter, Elena chooses to take drastic action to provide for her own adult son.The film observes class resentment in a very compelling and surprising matter.,Of course Zvyaginstey's observes it in empathetical matter , and at the same time it takes you in a direction that you least expect. At first you're led to believe that the title character Elena is a sympathetic woman that's just trying to take care of her lethargic unemployed son and his family, but gradually it's more about Elena's liberation, and her own liberation can ultimately bring her down a path that is even worse and more confined.. This film is filled with so much tension, with the help of a fantastic Phillip Glass score, and it has many surprising twists and turns. Unlike most thrillers with very familiar premises, you really get inside these characters. This is a great thriller-drama with so much to say about class discrepancy that just happens to elevate the thriller genre. This is one of the most brilliantly acted and masterfully directed films you will see this year. Rating **** out of ****