LEVIATHAN is a take-no-prisoners, eye-opening, crushing tale of corruption and life in a small town on the beautiful gray-lit Barents sea – with its vodka-saturated humor, vast skeletons of whales and old fishing boats.
Kolia (Alexey Serebriakov) is an everyman, a car mechanic with a modest property perched on prime real estate. When the crooked mayor (Roman Madyanov) who wants his land hits Kolia with a compulsory purchase order, Kolia enlists the help of his old friend Dimitri (Vladimir Vzovichenkov), now a Moscow lawyer. Dimitri thinks he can get the mayor to back down, but attempting to blackmail Russia’s well-connected gangster class is fraught with danger. With an extraordinary eye for the class-inflected details of intimate small town life, Andrey Zvyagintsev, director of THE RETURN (the 2003 Venice Film Festival Golden Lion winner), has made a film in which the personal and the political are perfectly intertwined. This tragic-drama dissects the contemporary Russian spirit with immediacy and urgency, and unravels with a force that escalates into an annihilating sort of grandeur. In Russian with subtitles.
“A grave and beautiful drama, at once intimate and enormous. Pictorially ravishing in the best Russian wide-screen tradition… Mr Zvyagintsev layers social commentary, intense emotion and spiritual allegory without ever losing the human dimension of the narrative.” (Best of 2014 List) – A.O. Scott, The New York Times