The new film from Andrey Zvyagintsev, the visionary director of "The Return" and "The Banishment", tells the tragic tale of Kolya, who employs a lawyer friend to help fight his case for ownership of the land on which he and his family live when the nefarious town mayor attempts to seize it. But standing up against such men begins a whirlwind of dire consequences, infusing every area of Kolyas life and all he holds dear. A visually arresting epic which takes an unflinchingly direct look at modern day Russia and the corruption that seethes in even its quietest corners, "Leviathan" will not only open your eyes but also stay in your mind for years to come.
Harsh, without hope but utterly watchable
- Leviathan review by JR
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You rated this film: 4
I watched this film without any expectations, with the exception of the hope that it would be a watchable, 'entertaining' and gripping.
Having now finished, I can say it is not an uplifting film, but it is extremely well made, well acted and worth watching. It conforms to all the stereotypes that one might have of corruption in the former USSR, however it is not clichéd. Centred around a man who is about to have his home taken from him by the state and is doing his best to stop that happening. As the film progresses there's a definite groundswell of factors set against him, but you always have the hope that events conspiring against him and his family might resolve themselves in a positive manner. It pulls no punches, glamorizes nothing, is extremely well shot, I shall say no more for fear of giving away too much of the story.
But I'm glad I watched it, would recommend it to others and found it enjoyable, not in the feeling it leaves you with, in that it's a well crafted and shot film. It is not a feelgood film, and all the better for it.
This is a morose tale of corrupt bureaucracy and human deception. The actors are very natural and perform their roles exceptionally well. The movie is set in a dismal location, it is without humour and yet is strangely compelling.
Leviathan is a 2014 drama film, set in Russia, but with worldwide connotations. Yes you will have to read subtitles, but for almost two and a half hours, you will remain in your seat with your eyes firmly plastered to the screen. The duration almost seems too short.
The film is set on the outskirts of a town on the Barents Sea. It is here that we meet Nikolai and his family: wife Lilya and son Romka. The small town life feels anything but peaceful, as the family struggle against the corrupt mayor who is working to take away almost everything Nikolai owns. With the aid of his friend, they will fight to keep what is rightfully theirs, and stop the mayor once and for all.
Leviathan is noted as being a ‘rework of the Book of Job’ that deals with maintaining faith and trust in God when constantly confronted with hardship. What is actually the most interesting fact about this film, is that the main story was inspired by an event in the United States of America, but was changed to a Russian setting. Why writer/director Andrey Zvyagintsev did this, I am not entirely sure, but it does make the arguments and discussions over its portrayal of the Russian Government seem more pointed towards the American Government.
I had not seen or heard of any of the cast or crew before, but they all did a great job. Their emotion and conflict was felt through the screen.
The screen held wide and powerful shots of the scenery and nature, yet much closer shots of the people. The colouring was dark and daunting. The music was commanding. The scenery was beautiful despite the destruction.
The film does not contain cuts that paste together a picture they want you to see. The creators have been very reserved and want the audience to have time to see the images and decide for themselves how they feel.
Russia has always been a powerful country with figures that make their mark around the world. Russian politics have yet again been thrust into the spotlight, and this film shows that it is an important discussion that needs to be had in many countries. Of course, it is also bringing up uncomfortable and scary ideas for many, and loyalties are being tested.
Leviathan has received immense praise from critics and audience members alike. Online and in-print reviews have scored it almost perfectly, and it has won three of the five awards it has been so far nominated for (including at the Golden Globes).
As a believer in Christ, I connect with the characters’ striving to remain faithful to God, despite the many hardships of life. I give it four out of five stars, because it has almost everything you would want in a film: interesting story, engaging characters, dark and beautiful locations, and much more. I recommend this film and hope to see more like it.