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Leviathan lives up to its title, offering trenchant, well-crafted social satire on a suitably grand scale.
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A palpable and melancholy aura of resignation fills the masterful Leviathan the fourth feature from Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev. [Full review in Japanese]
Leviathan offers a wry version of the tragedy that occurs when normal people challenge entrenched hierarchies.
A brutal Russian masterpiece.
Early and strong contender for this year's best miserable time at the movies.
Heavy stuff but highly rewarding, and an illuminating look into a country still steeped in its brutal past.
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.
...Zvyagintsev expands the intimate drama into a larger ensemble piece, pushing up the run-time, encompassing a wider range of tones, and stretching out the themes in search of grandeur.
The film is riveting, visually and dramatically. It is also precise about Russia...
Leviathan is a beautiful but bleak film.
Zvyagintsev grants unrelenting, painstaking attention to the human drama that underscores Leviathan, but at the same time - as the name suggests - there are much bigger things going.
What makes the movie sting is its savage political portrait of a present-day Russian culture that, like Leviathan, threatens to swallow up everyone in its path.
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.
"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.
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
Set in a gloomy, oppressive location in Northern Russia, this is an uncomfortable drama of tremendous irony about a Job-like character who is forced to face the hypocrisy of conservatism in a lawless town where freedom and justice are only for the God-fearing righteous.
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