Leviathan (aka Leviafan) review by Michelle Sommerville - Cinema Paradiso
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.