Showing posts with label Andrey Zvyagintsev. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Andrey Zvyagintsev. Show all posts

9 March 2015

Blu-ray Review - Leviathan (2014)

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Artificial Eye
Rating: 15
Andrey Zvyagintsev
Elena Lyadova, Vladimir Vdovichenkov, Aleksey Serebryakov
Release: 9th March 2015
Buy: Leviathan [Blu-ray]

Leviathan is the film Vladimir Putin and his cronies don’t want you to see. It was however funded partly by money from the Russian ministry of culture, and it’s leader Vladimir Medinsky has admitted openly he dislikes the film. He claims it’s not a real depiction of Russian life and the director is more interested in “fame, red carpets and statuettes".

There are numerous reasons why the Russian government would have disdain for the film. First and foremost it depicts the Russian government as corrupt beyond repair in a Kafkaesque comedy of corruption. One of the biggest criticisms of the film by Medinsky is that the Russian coastal villagers are depicted as “swearing vodka-swigging humans” and given the story of the government stealing the home of the main character Koyla (Aleksey Serebryakov), it’s certainly believable he might be a bit “sweary” and might be drinking more than his fair share of Russia’s biggest export.

The themes of the film are as heavyweight as you might expect from the Russians, they are not known for their lightweight entertainment after all. The title of course comes from the Bible, and is the name of a giant sea monster in the Old Testament, obviously in this context the monster is the oppressive government. It’s also a loose retelling of the book of Job which some cineastes might know also inspired the Coen Brothers A Serious Man.

Andrey Zvyagintsev has made one of the most relentlessly bleak films to come out in a long time. However, despite the bleakness is also has an extremely dark sense of humour, the circumstances as so bleak it becomes absurd in the way Franz Kafka is very funny. Mikhail Krichman shot the film and some of the imagery is truly haunting, Zvyagintsev claims Krichman learned his craft from reading American Cinematographer. Aleksei Serebryakov as the lead Koyla gives one of the most heartbreaking performances in years, despite being at times rather unsympathetic. The arc he goes though is a perfect blend of biblical doom with aspects of the struggle Josef K goes through in The Trial.

It might not be a lightweight watch, and it’s a lengthy one at 2 hours and 20 minutes, but it’s a feat of work that should be seen. It’s an important film that depicts the issues that face the normal people of Russia under the tyrant that is Vladimir Putin. It has an ambition that is extremely rare in world cinema today, alongside a willing to tackle some deep questions. It should certainly be congratulated for that.

Ian Schultz