Opening March 12, 2015
Directed by: Andrey Zvyagintsev
Writing credits: Oleg Negin, Andrey Zvyagintsev
Principle actors: Aleksey Serebryakov, Elena Lyadova, Roman Madyanov, Vladimir Vdovichenkov, Sergey Pokhodaev
A strip of Barents Sea coastal land, in Kolia’s (Serebryakov) family for generations, has become a bone of contention between himself and the mayor (Madyanov). The situation is dire; fraud dictates in the small Russian town. Kolia turns to his friend Dmitriy (Vdovichenkov), now a veteran Moscow attorney. Soon after arriving, Dmitriy senses the situation’s effect on Kolia’s wife (Lyadova) and young teenage son (Pokhodaev). Corpulent and corrupt, Vadim rules ruthlessly and never without bodyguards. Participants in the behind-the-scenes scheming include members of the court and church. Instead of being bringing relief, Dmitriy’s presence causes further misfortune. During an outing to celebrate a local friend’s birthday, indiscretion leads to adversity throwing the group into chaos with cheerless results.
Profuse symbolism embellishes a thickly rich story that paints a broad picture of the many foibles of mankind. Greed, graft, betrayal, love, abhorrence: the title, Leviathan, has religious, political, and social connotations. With predominantly Jewish, Christian, and Satanic implications, in contemporary culture Leviathan is the (short) title of Thomas Hobbes’ 1651 work about society’s structure and legitimate government and considered the earliest support of social contract theory. Leviathan is found in Milton’s classic Paradise Lost, poetry, and books – novels, history, sci-fi, comics, et al. Any political innuendos here are directed against the regime that Putin currently heads. Mikhail Krichman’s cinematography is fantastic; the rich sound design augments (minimal and majestic) music from Philip Glass. To the betterment of the film, director Andrey Zvyagintsev wisely allows nature and quietude full-reign to draw us in, daring us not to become emotionally and spiritually involved in the dramatic ironies. Leviathan is Russia’s Foreign Language 2015 nominee for the BAFTA and Oscar® awards. In Russian with German subtitles. 141 minutes. ( )