Film Reviews Cat

Leviathan (2014)


The story takes place in a small Russian village near the coast where Kolya is in a legal battle against the local mayor. Kolya’s friend, who is a lawyer from Moscow, tries to help him, but the entire case is more complicated than initially thought. “Leviathan” tries to show the audience the experience of living in a corrupt Russian society, and does so with a very beautiful cinematic approach.  

One could describe “Leviathan” as a fictional cinematic documentary which covers an alleged Russian societal problem. This problem is corruption, and abuse of power in a small village according to the film. One could argue if this is meant to truly mirror the real life experience of some people, or if this is really the case. Basically the question is if this film is meant as social criticism, or purely as an interesting story which is fiction. Maybe it is both at the same time. However, once you watch this movie you will be exposed to an image about Russia which, in my opinion, can’t be generalized because it takes place in a very small and remote community. Having this in mind “Leviathan” really shows what can happen in a small, and remote community that is dealing with significant corruption. In my opinion this interesting story could have taken place in most remote regions around the world. 

You might wonder in which way this movie is so cinematic. The answer is the camera shots, angles, and the setting. The nature is beautifully captured to the extent that it even might be considered a semi-nature film. I have never seen such beautiful scenery in a film before. The colors are natural, and at the same time very cinematic. I would even say that the amazing nature shots are meant to expose, through contrast, the dirty corrupt behavior of some of the characters. Moreover, I am of the opinion that you will love the setting even if you would not like the plot so much.

This brings me to the plot itself, and if it is any good outside the social criticism spectrum. There are some interesting plot developments which are very realistic. The plot development of Kolya’s son, and new wife are well done, and the relationship between Kolya and Dima (Kolya’s friend and lawyer) is also well developed. Moreover, all of the characters are three dimensional, and well developed. However, what I personally found very strange was the plot development between Kolya’s wife Lilya and his friend Dima. One could argue that this was meant to show that not everything ends well in life, or that people will abandon you in a corrupt environment. However, I did find it problematic as we don’t see what happens to Dima while he was definitely not a minor character in this film. Personally, I would have preferred a very short scene at the end of Dima, but that might be the case because I really enjoy Vladimir Vdovichencov’s acting work. Additionally, the plot gets a little bit vague towards the last forty minutes of the film. I was not sure what exactly happened, but it is nice that it has an open interpretation, and that different scenarios are possible. I would even say that this is exactly why, hypothetically speaking,  there could be a sequel to this film which would fill in the gaps, and focuses on Moscow. However, such thinking might be related to Vladimir Vdovichencov, and not to the story itself.

Therefore one might come to the following conclusion; The acting, setting, and directing are all great. However, the plot itself leaves you hanging with a bunch of questions, and one big inconsistency, but the entire story is great to watch. I would argue that “Leviathan” is definitely worth watching, but it has more value as an introduction into some of the work of the great Russian actors. Moreover, it functions as a social criticism (albeit partial) which is very valuable in my opinion. And finally, this film might inspire people to watch more Russian films and series. I think that people underestimate the quality of Russian cinema and that this film shows the world what it is capable of.

Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev. Writers: Oleg Negin, Andrey Zvyagintsev

Aleksey SerebryakovNikolay ‘Kolya’
Elena LyadovaLilya
Vladimir VdovichenkovDmitriy
Roman MadyanovVadim Cheleviat ‘Mer’
Anna UkolovaAnzhela
Aleksey RozinPasha
Sergey PokhodaevRomka

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