Reviews of Elena
Displaying all 5 reviews
Um grito objectivo e puramente cinematográfico.
Para mim, esta é a verdadeira definição de verdadeiro cinema, de um filme completo. E digo completo pois, no fundo, tem tudo, ambos os lados, explorando-os objectivamente. Zvyagintsev – dotado de uma sensibilidade autoral extrema, já demonstrando uma crueldade criativa de esplendor no THE RETURN – é um dos cineastas contemporâneos mais intrigantes do ponto de vista da sua habilidade em conceber narrativamente todos os passos que nos direccionam até ao clímax, ao ritmo certo, a um ritmo que tanto se torna atractivo para o espectador como transmite uma visão, embora ambígua e aberta a interpretações (e assim o convém ser, como sempre), uma linguagem fílmica bastante particular, tal como a cada autor lhe é evidenciado. Somos capazes de sentir o filme, senti-lo como se fosse nosso, somos capazes de nos conectarmos a ele mesmo, numa ideia pós-moderna de que tudo está à nossa disposição para podermos usufruir à nossa maneira, entrando num mundo sem precisarmos de sair do nosso, porque ambos são, no fundo, o mesmo, ainda que a experiência e o trabalho de campo sejam diferentes.
Ao sermos capazes de perceber completamente as decisões e a capacidade de motivação de cada personagem – ligar a: tema complexo modelado pela atitude dos personagens contruídos à sua volta; uma atitude hitchcockiana que se reflecte no build-up e ritmo do filme, cena após cena -, os plot points, a escolha e a significância dos cenários, a duração de cada plano, a razão de ser do próprio script tanto na história em que o mesmo se enquadra como no presente em que o mesmo fora criado, compreendemos que este consegue ser um filme único, como tantos outros feitos noutras alturas do tempo passado. É, no entanto, no sentido paradigmático de que falo. Neste day and age, nos tempos difíceis que se avizinham (e que, para certas famílias – ligar ao conceito de família clássico completamente desprezado na era pós-moderna, todo um conjunto de ideias e vontades que são próprias da evolução humana e da sociedade -, já começaram há algum tempo), no país financeiramente aberto e economicamente anárquico em que ELENA se enquadra em. Somos, portanto, levados ao entendimento de ambos os lados que dividem esta sociedade, a nossa sociedade, a mesma que evoluiu de tempos passados, o rico e o pobre, o velho e o novo, as class struggles vs. generation gap. A luta dos baby boomers para ter o que agora têm, o desprezo dos que agora vivem pelo que têm, porque nunca precisaram de lutar para o ter, abominando sequer a ideia de ter de lutar para ter alguma coisa. Uma luta entre diferentes ideologias ou o excesso das mesmas. No fundo, não é luta nenhuma. Habituámo-nos a ter tudo que já não queremos nada. Lutamos por dinheiro mas o dinheiro já não luta por nós. Virou-se contra nós; melhor, viraram-no.
Não é, talvez, a nossa realidade. Mas é uma realidade que sabemos que existe. E qualquer dia bate-nos à porta. Se é que não bateu já.
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
Empty lives in search for something to fill their vacuous souls in a world where there’s nothing to be found ! ‘Modernity’ is a facade in a world where primal instincts still reign supreme and blood is indeed thicker than water. Andrey Zvyagintsev’s latest film is a tale about sad lives making futile attempts to connect in a world seemingly adverse to the strengthening of human bonds. This is a film which compels you to ask this question – ‘what do these characters really want?’ Perhaps they too are looking for the answer to that question ! The way a film-noir characteristic is employed in the narrative of a film which is a family drama on the surface, is quite interesting. A brilliant performance by the actress who’s at the center of the film, Nadezhda Markina (in the title role of Elena), who could have easily been a Femme Fatale in another, perhaps more stylized and overtly noirish, film ! Equally impressive are the visuals (Zvyagintsev’s visuals have never disappointed ! ) and the outstanding minimalist score by Philip Glass ! At the end, the film does leave you a bit underwhelmed and it feels slightly undercooked. Zvyagintsev’s last two films (including this one) have not managed to reach the heights of his magnificently haunting debut ‘THE RETURN’ , yet this film is quite a compelling watch. A very different ‘neo-noir’ at the end of the day and a story which alludes to The Russian Revolution in a very interesting way !
- Currently 4.0/5 Stars.
Now I head into 2011’s critically acclaimed Elena. Expectations are not super duper high, I imagine I will give it three stars, but I also imagine I will enjoy it! Wait a moment – - please wait outside the theater. Yes, it is technically showtime, but we’re having one of our characteristic technical problems and will need a moment to clear things up. Can we offer you nothing while you wait?
At 30 years old (and at 6pm on a Tuesday) I may be the youngest person at this sold-out screening inside the second theater of Fox Bay’s Cinema Grill, where apparently waiters will be buzzing around during the screening and serving the denizens of the bars we’re all sitting at. A new experience, at the least. Whitefish Bay is charming enough, if a bit… nice.
Well then. Who could’ve suspected that Elena would begin with the technique that Dead Weight dully drove into the ground?: a rack focus from a close-up of a branch to the tree behind it. The shot is outside the contemporary upper-middle-class home (or compound) of Vladimir and his wife Elena, and we solemnly navigate a few vacuum-like corridors before we follow the daily routine of Elena. As one who really, truly does adore Russia, this realist portrait of modern Russian life was heartily welcome. For instance, when Elena is preparing breakfast in the morning she uses what I believe was a clear, Brita-like water pitcher that was aboil, leading me to think that over there they have handheld kettles that keep water perpetually boiling (those Russians). Cool! Elena speaks delicately with her husband over breakfast about her deadbeat son (from a previous marriage), Sergei, asking Vladimir for the money necessary to keep his family going, specifically Sergei’s up-and-coming deadbeat son Sasha, who we witness much later being quite the young Droog. Vladimir, while a caring husband, cannot stomach helping a man as lazy as Sergei, even if Sergei is her lover’s son. Elena’s frustration is compounded by the fact that Vladimir continually supports his own daughter, Katya, a melancholy, misanthropic, intellectual hedonist played by Elena Lyadova. I would love to see more of this actress, who did very fine work, and it doesn’t hurt that she’s a classic Russian beauty. After Vladimir has a heart attack in a gym pool, the plot’s main catalyst, Katya is morally forced to visit him in the hospital and a very sweet scene endures in which she nihilistically denies him all affection before they somehow smile, laugh, kiss.
This is a film I was quite happy to go into nearly blind. Andrey Zvyagintsev’s direction is formal, deft, voyeuristic. The content of Elena involves a bit of moral ambiguity (the reasons for which I will not elaborate) and Zvyagintsev’s direction takes a smart distance from it. Most of the film unfolds without inflection, and in the last third I do imagine there are a few disparate moral lanes each audience member will be taking. Elena won the ‘Un Certain Regard – Grand Jury Prize’ at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, and with the exception of the impenetrably perfect Sans Soleil, is the best film I’ve yet seen at this year’s festival.
written by David Ashley
- Currently 4.0/5 Stars.
The long introductory shot introducing the apartment Elena shares with her second husband (and former employer) begins looking just like any ordinary apartment then slowly reveals evidence of wealth in the quality of the furnishings and finishings – nothing ostentatious or pretentious, just obviously top of the line. The rest of the movie reveals itself similarly, in the details you notice rather than what you’re told. Elana’s open-hearted love of her adult son, who seems permanently unemployed, unambitious, and ungrateful in addition to being both a poor spouse to his wife and poor parent to his son, leads her to resent her husband for refusing financial assistance to her son while he offers it unreservedly to his daughter who, in Elena’s eyes, is even more ungrateful and unloving. The daughter seems this way to us as well, until we begin to see through her facade and glimpse tremendous unspoken affection between father and daughter. Elena ultimately chooses allegiance to one family by betraying the other and the film concludes with another long pan through the apartment revealing how much the character of the space is influenced by its inhabitants with subtle portent of changes to come.
- Currently 4.0/5 Stars.
Elena is the third feature film by Russian director Andrei Zvyagintsev. He came to prominence with his startling debut The Return, an enigmatic, visually striking film about a family road trip. His reputation was sealed with an assured sophomore effort entitled The Banishment (you can see he has a penchant for mysterious titles) and whispers of an heir to Tarkovsky were heard. So Elena comes with a hefty set of expectations attached.
This parable-like tale concerns Elena (Nadezhda Markina), a steely housewife, caught between her rich husband Vladimir (Andrey Smirnov) and layabout son Sergey (Aleksey Rozin). Elena used to care for Vladimir, but has now been married to him for 10 years. The couple live in a luxurious city apartment, while Sergey and his family live in poverty in a small deadbeat town. The director effectively juxtaposes these two opposing existences, perhaps making a point about the gap between the wealthy and the poor in modern day Russia.
Sergey urges his mother to acquire money from Vladimir, his stepfather, in order to pay for his obnoxious son to go to uni. Vladimir, a grumpy, stingy man, balks at Sergey’s laziness and refuses to cave in to the demands, not even to sate his wife. Elena is caught between two stubborn men, and when Vladimir starts to fall ill, she faces a dilemma about whose side she is going to take. Added into the mix is Vladimir’s estranged, hedonistic daughter Katerina (a sharp-eyed Yelena Lyadova).
The performances are routinely impressive, Markina especially working with a difficult, nuanced portrayal of loyalty and guilt. The film as a whole feels very enigmatic, very unshowy. At various points there are references to religion, and morality seems to be the major theme of the film. Aesthetically and thematically I would say this this is weaker than Zvyagintsev’s previous two films; the bleached out, expressive landscapes have been replaced with a more banal urban look. Despite this, the film is very accomplished and compelling, the understated moralistic dilemmas leaving it a quiet power.
- Currently 4.0/5 Stars.