Rated: R for language and some sexuality/graphic nudity. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: December 31, 2014 Released by: Sony Pictures
This new powerfully resonant Russian film (fully subtitled) from a superbly artfully adroit Andrey Zvyagintsev is not to be confused with the 1989 film with Peter Weller and Richard Crenna among deep-sea miners dealing with a genetic mutation around a wreck. One that may not be high on Vladimir Putin's viewing
It's inspired by the mythical underwater beast, as well as the Book of Job, to take a remarkably symbolic look at political and religious efficacy in a small fishing hamlet near the stunning Barents Sea in northwest Russia. Two stalwart entities that have quite a hold on society like twin pillars from an iconic essay.
What the director and co-writer does so well in what is surely a Best Foreign Picture nominee is to bring universality to his story and characters, gripping to the point that it has an extraordinary effect on the on-looker in what goes from the elemental to the revelatory.
Self-made Nikolai (Aleksey Serebryakov) is dealing with corrupt mayor Vadim (Roman Madyanov) who's mandated a purchase order on his auto repair shop/home. In comes Nikolai's Moscow attorney chum Dimitri (an excellent Vladimir Vdovichenkov) to put up an unsuccessful case against the establishment.
The wickedly resonant tale with vividly gelid lensing and prevailing legalese sprawls with authoritative veracity after Dimitri digs up Vadim's past. But, a thorniness appears by way of Nikolai's younger second wife Lilya (Elena Liadova) with sullen teenage son Romka (Sergvei Pokhodaev) wrestling with this changing milieu where there are consequences. Though not always faced by whom it would seem.
The crisply evocative production includes wonderfully roiling music from Philip Glass (whose excellent contributions include The Hours) as the themes have a wrenching, startling aura attuned to the darkly pungent and witty performances of flawed, often vodka-swilling characters. From the fiscal jurisdiction a certain unsettling claustrophobia expands to a point that is realized with masterful candor and lyricism making for an intense, deeply involving Leviathan that even makes the most of what doesn't appear on-screen.