Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev
Starring: Aleksey Serebryakov, Roman Madyanov, Elena Lyadova, Vladimir Vdovichenkov
How to describe a film like Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan? A real work of art comes to mind.
Leviathan follows the story of a Russian family living in a remote coastal town in Russia. The father, Nikolai (Aleksey Serebryakov), a mechanic, is dealing with the Mayor (Roman Madyanov) who wants to take his land and tear down his house. Nikolai’s problems worsen as he enlists the aid of his friend, Dmitri (Vladimir Vdovichenkov), a lawyer to help him fight the case.
Zvyagintsev’s film is a dark and brooding tale of love, life, desperation, deceit, corruption and humanity; it’s a remarkable piece of filmmaking, the type that will remain with you long after it’s finished.
There is a dark beauty about this Leviathan which will draw you in until the moment it ends. Zvyagintsev uses a very muted colour palette, full of dark greens, browns and blues, which renders the mesmerising landscape beautifully. You can almost feel the brisk sea wind on your face and smell the sea air.
The cast and direction are equally phenomenal. Every actor is utterly believable in their roles, especially Aleksey Serebryakov and Elena Lyadova who perfectly portray a couple in a perpetual state of flux. And despite the rather dark and bleak outlook on life the film has, there are many laughs to be had. Oddly enough, it passes the six laughs test, which is more than can be said about most modern comedies.
However, if I was to have one negative point to make about the film, it’s that it could have been slightly shorter. The 140-minute runtime is a tad too long.
Ultimately, Leviathan is an unrelentingly realistic film, set in a harsh environment, with harsh people having to deal with difficult and entirely human problems. It’s not afraid to be that way and should be celebrated for that.