A story about political and spiritual downfall, exploring various religious themes as well as the erosion of social contract within a cynical system based on self-interest. It's dark as it is usual for Russian movies with a sociopolitical theme, but it does not make it any worse.
Gigantesque monstre marin dans la mythologie phénicienne qui dans la Bible symbolise les puissances du mal, "Leviathan" a pris désormais ses aises et ses quartiers dans la Russie tsariste de Poutine où le bon vouloir de certains s'arroge le droit pour leurs seuls intérêts de puissance et de domination, hommes de main, femmes liges, pelleteuses et bulldozers en action et en soumission... www.cinefiches.com
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.
A fine allegory of contemporary Russia exposing the sin laden within every depth of Russia's institutions from the government on down to the individual. Attempts at reform, justice or meaning only end up failing as forces seemingly beyond control, be they fate or the nature of Russian character, impede. At times Zvyagintsev falls into vodka soaked Russian cliches, but the clever, if linear, narrative is effective.
The car dash board with 3 images of holy characters and to the right 3 images of naked celebrities broadens the narrative from the local hero and the Goliath to the issue of unleashed and uncontrolled powers at this moment all over the world. Be it the Coalition of the Willing (what a horrifying name) or a club of conspirators, powers are brutally crushing everything that stands on the ways to their interests.
After watching this, Zvyagintsev became my favorite living director. But since I have a particular taste for cynical fatalism, I wouldn't recommend it to everyone, specially not to someone who wants to see a feel-good film. I still can't wrap my ahead around the fact that it was partly founded by the Russian Ministry of Culture. I guess Putin thought that acting in mysterious ways would make him look like a god.