Leviathan, by far is one of the best World movies of 2014 along with Ida. This Russian film directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev, thrives in cinematic liberty exploring the complex backdrop of corruption and a damning analysis of the archaic, dissipated bred of an unchecked regime. The title refers as sea monster to the biblical phase and also similar to the story of Naboth’s Vineyard. Leviathan is an astonishing gesticulation and a rattling human drama; imposing peak performances mark this colossal of a film.
Leviathan, which is partly funded by Russian Ministry of Culture, represents a unique difference in the Russian Film industry. It serves as a break from the chauvinistic magniloquence that has come to dominate the industry in recent years. This film has a diverging opinion back home in Russia for the way it portrays rural life, a split of wretched, dark, morose and vodka soaked with the protagonist against the state in affair
This film competed for the Palme d’Or in the main competition at Cannes and adjudged the best film of the International Film Festival of India in 2014, besides an Oscar nominee for the foreign entry this year. Andrey Zvyagintsev, with each of his films had taken home prestigious awards. In his earlier film The Return won the Golden Lion at Venice in 2003; The Banishment for Best Actor at Cannes in 2007 and his 2011 film Elena, at Cannes won Special Jury Prize for Un Certain Regard. Leviathan, his fourth venture should clot his unmatched ascension as the key film maker to rise out of Russia since Andrey Tarkovsky.
Though Leviathan continues to be censored and criticized for hiding anti-Russian sentiment in its native market, he is one to watch and his touching expressions will serve only to inspire a new generation of Russian filmmakers to follow in his footsteps. Surely the time may prove him to be the most powerful director of 21st century.
Set on a peninsula by the Barents Sea, the small coastal town in Northern Russia. The story revolves around a reckless simpleton named Kolya (Alexei Serebriakov), as a local mechanic out of work types, living in the home that he’s built with his own hands on the picturesque dwelling waterfront. The events of his life reveal in the narrative focused on the murky and icy aspects of human nature and the veracity behind moral aspects of apparent friendliness, blind love and undeserved trust. The events seem to untangle terribly for Kolya when a crooked mayor named Vadim (Roman Madyanov) eyes Kolya’s property, and initiates the process of repossessing it through self-serving legal devices for an undervalued sum.
Kolya’s family in complete disorder complicated further by his younger discontented second wife Lilia (Elena) and teenage aberrant son Roma (Sergey Pokhodaev) from Kolya’s first marriage. Kolya’f friends hardly look at him as a man of appeal; only see him as a talented mechanic. The movie uncompromisingly tackles several taboo issues facing Russia today that include prevalent corruption, widespread economic inequality, the noxious merger of church and state, and rampant alcoholism which paints a bleak image of modern day Russia. These representations are rarely known to other global audiences, unrelatedly the Eastern or Western cultures outside the erstwhile Communist bloc.
Kolya reaches out to his old army buddy turned lawyer, Dimitri (Vladimir Vdovitchenkov) for help and support. Inward from Moscow with tons of disapproving information on the crooked mayor, Dimitri shoves an attempt to end the forced sale of Kolya’s land by intimidating Vadim baring him. But blackmail only seems to inflame due to prior stirred tempers. The further collapse of his friendship with Dimitri’s extra marital affair with Lilia is a turning point in the film that scatters the threesome that had been anchoring it. Later, when even more tragic circumstances befall them, more off-screen violence leads us to question the integrity and motives of both men.
Kolya eventually reconciles with his wife. In the interim Mayor Vadim goes to his friend, a local Orthodox priest, for spiritual comfort and is dubiously encouraged to solve his problems by the might of the power he has in his township. This motivates Vadim, and he resolves himself to hire criminals to threaten Dmitri with death if he does not go back to Moscow. Vadim also orders his office workers to go forward in repossessing Kolya’s property. Lilia, driven by guilt from Kolya’s kindness and forgiveness, commits suicide.
Well along, Kolya is arrested for the death of Lilia by authorities citing as murder committed by her husband. Kolya goes flustered when he finds out that the charges against him were clearly attested by his supposed friends. In consequent- Kolya is jailed for fifteen and his son is taken in by his supposed friends for childcare money. The army buddy lawyer returns to Moscow and is no longer interested in Kolya’s matters. Finally, Kolya’s homestead is torn down for Vadim’s and the Church’s projects and thus film ends with the sermon of Vadim’s friend, the priest in a new church, which has been built over Kolya’s property.
The film casts an uneasy light on the corrupt relationship between the state and the Russian Orthodox Church and at one stage of this film’s release- the church had called to stop screening of this film. Primarily, though, Leviathan surrounds as an unpretentious happenings with the human disposition marinated in cinematic expression. The conflict against a capacious landscape draped in the deep blues of water and sky, bolstered by an eccentrically controlled tone, the movie strikes together the spiritual poignant and ominousness.
This truly is an honest film- the visual galore stuns you as an audience with an amazing photography by Mikhail Krichman, combining the story in the sorcerous best. You see the movie never uses its caprices as an excuse. Instead, Zvyagintsev conveys the frustrations of the mounting chaos through alluring visual symbolism. The movie offers no image more powerful than the man curled up on a rock alongside the bones of a long-dead whale carcass, his sobs buried by the roar of the nearby waves. Director Zvyagintsev finds a striking contrast to these moments with his final images, when only the stillness of nature can provide a semblance of peace.
- Written & Directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev
- Produced by Alexander Rodnyansky
- Co-Written by Oleg Negin
- Cast: Aleksei Serebryakov; Elena Lyadova; Vladimir Vdovichenkov & Roman Madyanov
- Cinematography: Mikhail Krichman
- Release dates:23 May 2014 (Cannes)
- Run time of 141 minutes
- Country: Russia
- Language: Russia