Yes, it may be a "message movie", and its lack of cinematic formalism dethrones Zvyagintsev from the conceptual, contextual and aesthetic league of Tarkovsky, but let's consider clear merits. It remains incredibly articulate in expositing endemic issues within lawful process, and the vindictive nature of communities based on territorial agendas. It's a hard watch, but revelatory in addressing real human antagonisms.
This is a David and Goliath story set in a desolate Russian fishing-town.
But this is also a strong family drama, a tale of friendship, betrayal, corruption, hope, hopelessness...
The cinematography also deserves a mention, there are countless wonderfully framed scenes. Reminds me of Tarkovsky's works.
Hands down to one of the best film in this decade.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the nationality of a movie, in these celebratory formatting times, it's especially an indication note of the production country and not an artistic statement of and about the object that we will see. Being a Russian film in this case is equal to nothing in formal terms, lost that is the amazing construction in rumor and gaps that marked so much the Russian cinematographic soul.
Beautiful, brooding, and disturbing, its mysteries and ambivalence are revealed a little at a time; a rare animal's bones or a rotting boat glimpsed at low tide, a little sadness, a little vanity. But the most intriguing question is whether Zvyagintsev is siding with Job in his sufferings, or Romans 13:1?
Staggering and fulsomely compelling in the first half when we aren't sure exactly where we are going and the movie carries serious thrust. Somewhat disappointing as the whole approach becomes diffuse, leaden in its symbolism, and obligated to make its point afterwards. Still, monumental. That it exists, and that state money is involved, ought to prompt some serious reflection
With perfectly matched cinematography and direction Leviafan is an astute study of belonging, corruption, loyalty and man against the machine. It's a mature voice that mirrors the complexity of life with with a deft touch, happily ending it's minor narrative threads as abruptly as they begin. 4 stars
Russia has gone from the Tsars to authoritarian communism to whatever the hell Putin is, and Zvyagintsev, with this sense of history, confirms his rep as a master of the slow-burn allegory. A brilliantly written drama, surreptitiously laying out important details as it draws a chilling (yet often comical) look at how corrupt systems can't be challenged because the challengers are only human. One of 2014's best.
It's as if Frank Capra and Tarkovsky co-directed a feature - powerfully incisive in form and visually cunning. It's hard to say that "Leviathan" is the best representation of what power is at a larger scale, but it does an outstanding job at depicting the politics of a microcosmos. And, of course, knockout performances elevate this into what will soon become a classic.