Leviathan

"Essential"

Leviathan Review


Watching this staggeringly well-made Russian drama is like reading a great novel: it leaves you feeling changed at the end. With echoes of the Book of Job, the rich, complex story is packed with vivid characters and pungent themes that explore the impact of political and religious power on society. As the plot twists and the ideas expand, the characters become even more engaging, and the film is gorgeously shot in a place that feels like it could be just about anywhere.

It's actually northwest Russia, where Kolya (Aleksey Serebryakov) has built his home overlooking the waterways of a close-knit fishing village that has seen better days. He lives in the house with his surly teen son Roma (Sergey Pokhodaev) and his younger second wife Lilya (Elena Lyadova), and none of them are willing to accept a compulsory purchase order from city hall for their property. The local mayor Vadim (Roman Madyanov) has so much power that he can do whatever he wants, so Kolya asks for help from his old military buddy Dima (Vladimir Vdovichenkov), now a hotshot lawyer in Moscow. When the case turns sour, Dima has a secret weapon in a file of incriminating dirt about Vadim. But nothing goes as expected for any of these people.

The brilliantly crafted screenplay continually shifts the ground for everyone, from legal issues to personal liaisons, all fuelled by the constant consumption of vodka. At one point, Kolya takes Dima and his family along on a picnic in the countryside with some friends who use portraits of past Russian leaders as target practice and think nothing of downing a few bottles of vodka before driving home. The joke is that it's not so easy to escape the influence of power, and there's always a bigger fish. Yes, the title refers to the mythical undersea beast from the Bible, but it's also the title of Hobbes' classic essay about how the twin powers of the Church and State are meant to protect society, not exploit it.

These themes resonate far beyond Russian society, as anyone who lives in a culture that calls itself free and fair understands that justice is often tied to money. But filmmaker Andrey Zvyagintsev lets all of this swell up beneath a story that never has a false moment. While cleverly leaving key events off-screen for maximum impact, Zvyagintsev grips the audience with every scene. These are people we recognise as ourselves, played with a razor-sharp authenticity that's powerfully compelling. And in the end, we understand that remaining silent about any abuse of power is the real danger.

 



Leviathan

Facts and Figures

Genre: Foreign

Run time: 98 mins

In Theaters: Friday 17th March 1989

Box Office Worldwide: $15.7M

Distributed by: MGM Home Entertainment

Production compaines: Filmauro, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Gordon Company

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 14%
Fresh: 3 Rotten: 19

IMDB: 5.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev

Producer: Sergey Melkumov, Aleksandr Rodnyanskiy

Starring: as Steven Beck, as Dr. Glen Thompson, as Elizabeth 'Willie' Williams, as Justin Jones, as Buzz 'Sixpack' Parrish, as Cobb, as Bowman, as DeJesus, as Martin

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The kill-or-die scenario that this movie hinges on isn't something new; it's been used in...

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

Advertisement
The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning novel is adapted into a remarkably intelligent, gently involving film anchored...

The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby Movie Review

There isn't a lot of subtlety in this madcap animated comedy, which is more aimed...

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...

Going in Style Movie Review

Going in Style Movie Review

This is only technically a remake of the iconic 1979 film starring movie icons George...

Graduation Movie Review

Graduation Movie Review

Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) recounts another staggeringly detailed...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the...

Free Fire Movie Review

Free Fire Movie Review

Basically a 90-minute shoot-out, there isn't a lot to this movie. British filmmaker Ben Wheatley...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.