Critics Consensus

Leviathan lives up to its title, offering trenchant, well-crafted social satire on a suitably grand scale.



Total Count: 147


Audience Score

User Ratings: 17,291
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Movie Info

The latest drama from Andrey Zvyagintsev, the acclaimed director of The Return (Venice Film Festival Golden Lion winner and Golden Globe nominee). Kolya (Alexeï Serebriakov) lives in a small fishing town near the stunning Barents Sea in Northern Russia. He owns an auto-repair shop that stands right next to the house where he lives with his young wife Lilya (Elena Liadova) and his son Roma (Sergueï Pokhodaev) from a previous marriage. (C) Sony Classics


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Critic Reviews for Leviathan

All Critics (147) | Top Critics (43) | Fresh (144) | Rotten (3)

  • A palpable and melancholy aura of resignation fills the masterful Leviathan the fourth feature from Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev. [Full review in Japanese]

    Dec 19, 2016 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Leviathan offers a wry version of the tragedy that occurs when normal people challenge entrenched hierarchies.

    Jul 19, 2016 | Full Review…
  • A brutal Russian masterpiece.

    Mar 26, 2015 | Rating: 4.5/5 | Full Review…
  • Early and strong contender for this year's best miserable time at the movies.

    Feb 26, 2015 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Heavy stuff but highly rewarding, and an illuminating look into a country still steeped in its brutal past.

    Feb 26, 2015 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

    Rafer Guzman

    Top Critic
  • Yes, this could happen anywhere, but you get the feeling it happens often in Russia. The only real hope here is that a movie this hard on the motherland could be made there.

    Feb 20, 2015 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Leviathan

  • Sep 25, 2015
    Gorgeously shot and with some fine performances, Leviathan is striving to bring the story of Job to modern Russia. What answer can a man who is showerd by suffering give to life? And the protagonist of this film suffers a lot and without a reason. Suffering comes from outside, from the symbolic Leviathan - be it the the corrupt mayor, the unpredictable human emotions (his wife's, his friend's and his son's) or life itself. Unlike the story of Job, the protagonist's adventure does not have a closure. We never see what answer, if any, he gives to his story of suffering. The finale is a very pessimistic one then. This lack of closure leaves an usatisfactory feeling in the end and makes the film's finale less nuanced by turning it to a bitter satire. (See the last scene with the church, the mayor and the shot with the expensive cars.) I was left with the impression that while the film tried to fish out Leviathan, the monster managed to break away in the end and dived into the depths from where it came. In other words, the big questions this film invokes are left hanging on the air. The existential symbols and the social satire do not compliment each other very well here. Despite this flaw though the film's atmosphere and desolate landscape of northern Russia is haunting and the film stays with you.
    George M Super Reviewer
  • Mar 06, 2015
    "Leviathan" starts with Dmitriy(Vladimir Vdovichenkov) visiting his friend Kolya(Aleksey Serebryakov). But Dmitriy did not come all the way from Moscow for a social call or for drunken shooting practice. He is a lawyer who is seeking to prevent Kolya's lakeside house from being seized by Vadim(Roman Madyanov), the local mayor. At first, he is little help as Kolya loses his appeal. However, Dmitriy has some information on Vadim he plans on using as leverage next. Even as it might seem anti-climactic and maybe a little slowly paced, "Leviathan" does end on one heck of a kicker. Otherwise, this is a finely textured movie about the universal themes of being trapped in a situation not of one's making.(This movie is inspired by a real life incident that happened in Colorado.) In this beautiful landscape dotted with both organic and inorganic wreckage in Russia, as depicted here, the Orthodox Church has an outsized influence in worldly matters, especially illustrated in the meetings Vadim holds in his office with a priest. That this is not always in the best interests of the people is best expressed in a scene where another priest, instead of giving Kolya practical advice like say lay off the drinking, chastises him for not attending church.
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • Feb 03, 2015
    Leviathan is perhaps the most poignant at modern Russian life seen in film today. The film has more than one conflict, but it begins with that of Kolya, a hothead landowner, and corrupt mayor Vadim who's trying to take this property away from him. The film criticizes Russian culture, but more importantly the corruption in the bureaucratic society. While the laws cited in some court room scenes may sound just like the US Constitution, it soon becomes clear that very little of the legal process is followed by those on top. While the film is set in a smaller town, I do believe the statement by the director is corruption throughout the nation. There's a very strong scene, when many of the protagonist go out shooting- the targets are framed images of former Russian dictators. One character asks is there anyone more modern, in reply another character states that we will let history reflect on those. But Zvyagintsev has a bit of a different statement, in one scene there's a portrait of Vladimir Putin standing right behind Vadim in his office. I see this as Zvyagintsev pointing the corruption all the way to the top. Which is interesting since 35% of the films funding is from the Russian minsitry of culture. But they themselves have had a change of heart. From Wiki Vladimir Medinsky, Minister of Culture, acknowledged that the film showed talented moviemaking but said he does not like it. He sharply criticized its portrayal of ordinary Russians as vodka-swigging and foul-mouthed, which he does not recognize from his experience. He thought it strange that there is not a single positive character in the movie, implying that the director was not fond of Russians but rather "fame, red carpets and statuettes." He has proposed guidelines which would ban movies which defile national culture. The films conflict later does focus more on the personal life of Kolya, but the aspect of the mayor and his corruption is always looming in the background. The movie could have ended more powerfully, but suddenly, in the final court room scene. Zooming into the all so familiar prosecutor. While I didn't find this part shocking, I found it hardening. Instead the film has a strong in a Russian Orthodox Church. Which is also brutally criticized by the film. The film ends in the same scenery and with the same music as when it began. Raising the question, have things changed? And will they ever?
    Daniel D Super Reviewer
  • Jan 26, 2015
    I am so happy to be all in on these types of dramas. Leviathan is a 140-minute Russian drama about a man living in a Russian coastal town, who is forced to deal with a corrupt mayor wanting to take away his land. There are many other characters involved, various turns in the story, and a lot of symbolism both religious and otherwise (this story is a modern reworking of the Book of Job), but my main takeaway was how engaged I was throughout a film like this, given the dreariness of the scenarios and even the setting presented. The story is not striving to be any sort of ambitious new take on a cinematic tragedy, but it is quite well-acted, well-assembled, and far more interesting than lesser attempts that layer the melodrama a bit to thick. read the whole review at thecodeiszeek.com
    Aaron N Super Reviewer

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