Screened as part of NZIFF 2014
The boldest of contemporary Russian filmmakers, Andrey Zvyagintsev (The Return, Elena) electrified the Cannes Competition with Leviathan. Winner of the award for best screenplay, it is a thriller, a black social comedy and an astoundingly direct assault on the state of his native land.
“It’s a contemporary Russian tale, set on the shores of the Barents Sea, about the unholy powers of the state and the church bearing down on one man, Kolia (Alexey Serebryakov) and his family, after he dares to challenge an attempt by the local mayor, Vadim (Roman Maydanov), to take his home from him. The film’s title borrows from that of political philosopher Thomas Hobbes’s greatest work and helps itself to his view that life would be ‘nasty, brutish and short’ without good government and an organised society. It’s a tragedy with a hint of black comedy that moves at its own, sometimes surprising, pace and rhythm, and it lands a bruising punch on modern Russia… Like Elena before it, this is a parable, but it’s a grander affair unafraid to wander down some unusual paths with all the detail and density of a great novel.” — David Calhoun, Time Out London
“It’s a film of ferocious political rage, railing against Russia’s corrupt masters, but it’s also mysterious and poetic, eventually opening out to metaphysical perspectives. And while it’s deeply contemplative, its narrative fairly barrels along. For a killer combination of energy, imagination and visionary cinematic power, Leviathan fairly lives up to its name.” — Jonathan Romney, The Guardian