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Leviathan

8/10
Drama
 

In a Russian coastal town, Kolya is forced to fight the corrupt mayor when he is told that his house will be demolished. He recruits a lawyer friend to help, but the man's arrival brings further misfortune for Kolya and his family.

 
Actors: Vladimir Vdovichenkov , Elena Lyadova , Aleksey Serebryakov , Anna Ukolova , Roman Madyanov , Sergey Pokhodaev , Kristina Pakarina , Dmitriy Bykovskiy-Romashov , Lesya Kudryashova , Aleksey Rozin
Directors: Andrey Zvyagintsev
Country: RUSSIA
Release: 2015-02-05
More Info:
  • Ty Burr

    If Leviathan takes the Academy Award on the 22nd — and it’s considered the front-runner by some — it’ll be a win for great filmmaking and a loss for the Putin government.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • Rene Rodriguez

    It’s a cry of despair and soul-shaking desperation, leavened with shades of Dostoyevskyan angst.

    Miami Herald Full Review
  • Ann Hornaday

    Magnificently acted, expertly crafted and unerringly sure of every treacherous step it takes, Leviathan is an indictment, but also an elegy, a film set among the monumental ruins of a culture, whether they’re the skeletal remains of boats, a whale’s bleached bones, a demolished building or a trail of lives that are either ruined or hopelessly resigned.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Andrew O'Hehir

    Leviathan, the fourth feature from Russian director Andrei Zvyagintsev, may be the one true masterpiece of global cinema released in 2014.

    Salon.com Full Review
  • Peter Rainer

    Leviathan is, in the widest sense, a horror film.

    Christian Science Monitor Full Review
  • Farran Smith Nehme

    Director Andrey Zvyagintsev’s film combines allegory, brutal melodrama, black humor and strikingly beautiful compositions, each frame dense with meaning. Leviathan stays absolutely gripping, right up to the O. Henry twist that slams the film shut.

    New York Post Full Review
  • Graham Fuller

    No wonder the vodka bottle beckons in this wrenchingly acted, remorseless modern masterpiece.

    New York Daily News Full Review
  • Phil de Semlyen

    Frustrating, funny at points, heartbreaking and quite magnificently shot throughout, Leviathan is one of the films of the year.

    Empire Full Review
  • Eric Kohn

    Rather than building towards the finality of a single climax, Leviathan injects several of them into the tapestry of its elegant design.

    indieWIRE Full Review
  • Peter Bradshaw

    Leviathan is acted and directed with unflinching ambition, moving with deliberative slowness and periodically accelerating at moments of high drama and suspense. It isn't afraid of massive symbolic moments and operatic gestures.

    The Guardian Full Review
  • Leslie Felperin

    Simultaneously a modern essay on suffering, an open-ended thriller, and a black social comedy, it is most importantly of all a thinly-veiled political parable drenched in bitter irony that takes aim against the corrupt, corrosive regime of Vladimir Putin.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Oliver Lyttelton

    If there was ever any doubt as to Zvyagintsev's position as one of world cinema's foremost auteurs, it's put to rest here. His filmmaking has always been superb, but he's never taken on the state of his nation in the way he does here. And that makes "Leviathan" not just masterful but also hugely important.

    The Playlist Full Review
  • Peter Debruge

    This is the director’s most accessible and naturalistic film, using everyday characters to test how well modern-day Russia is maintaining the social contract with its citizens.

    Variety Full Review
  • John Bleasdale

    Zvyagintsev's pessimism is leavened both by his comedy and his sense of beauty. Mikhail Krichman's cinematography captures the sublime grandeur of the landscape against which the nasty, brutish and short lives are played out.

    CineVue Full Review
  • Bill Goodykoontz

    A sense of dread hovers over all these characters, and, by extension, the audience. It's in the air of the place, like oxygen. And vodka. Lots of vodka. Yet Zvyagintsev's achievement, or one of them, is creating a film that is not one long downer. It's not exactly a laugh riot, but we do care about these people.

    Arizona Republic Full Review
  • Bob Mondello

    Scenes that are about to turn catastrophic for Kolya often begin with flat-out comedy.

    NPR Full Review
  • Stephanie Zacharek

    This is a dense, multilayered picture, one firmly rooted in a specific landscape, a dramatic coastal spot dotted with the carcasses of decrepit fishing boats, as well as the magnificent skeleton of one long-dead whale.

    Village Voice Full Review
  • Marc Savlov

    Vladimir Putin’s Russia – brutal, carnivorous, delusional, but monstrously well-evolved for crushing both spirits and lives large and small – is taken to task in this excoriating portrait of the state’s omnivorous hunger for control in a far-flung northern fishing community on the Barents Sea.

    Austin Chronicle Full Review
  • Steven Rea

    The haunting mastery of Leviathan comes not from these broad indictments of a social order, but from the specifics of the performances, the actors wearing their hurt and rage, their defiance and dread, like well-worn clothing.

    Philadelphia Inquirer Full Review
  • Liam Lacey

    Call it what you like – a modern Russian epic, a crime drama, a black comedy or a scream in the dark – Leviathan is a shaggy masterpiece.

    The Globe and Mail (Toronto) Full Review
  • Bill Stamets

    The masterful script deals with telling words.

    Chicago Sun-Times Full Review
  • Michael Phillips

    It's a small story set in a memorably desolate location. The actors, all quite magnificent, enlarge it, just as cinematographer Mikhail Krichman illuminates the vistas and roadways and even the furtive kitchen table glances between clandestine lovers.

    Chicago Tribune Full Review
  • Godfrey Cheshire

    Ultimately Leviathan may divide viewers between those who find its possible meanings too numerous and inchoate and others who welcome the challenges of helping create its meaning.

    RogerEbert.com Full Review
  • Peter Travers

    Why should you suffer through a 140-minute Russian film that is basically a contemporary remake of The Book of Job? Because it's a stupendous piece of work, that's why, and because it represents the kind of challenging, intimate filmmaking that transcends language and borders.

    Rolling Stone Full Review
  • Chuck Bowen

    Andrey Zvyagintsev never loses sight of the humans, who're allowed to display improvisatory behavior that deepens the majesty of the rigorously orchestrated tableaus.

    Slant Magazine Full Review
  • Joe McGovern

    As in the Coen brothers' great "A Serious Man," the Book of Job looms large here — which is likely how director Andrey Zvyagintsev secured support from his country's censorship-happy Ministry of Culture.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • Mike D'Angelo

    In his three previous films (The Return, The Banishment, Elena), Zvyagintsev frequently pushed past sober into dour, leaning too heavily on a characteristically Soviet sense of gloom and doom... Leviathan is another downer, but it’s considerably looser and livelier than its predecessors, verging at times on black comedy.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • Anthony Lane

    Leviathan is a tale for vertiginous times, with the ruble in free fall. There must be thousands of stories like Kolya’s right now, lives folding and collapsing, upon which Zvyagintsev could cast his unfoolable eye. Despite that, he is not primarily a satirist, or even a social commentator; he is the calm surveyor of a fallen world, and Leviathan, for all its venom, never writhes out of control.

    The New Yorker Full Review
  • Manohla Dargis

    The director, Andrey Zvyagintsev, has a heavenly eye but a leaden hand, and his movie is as heavy as it is transporting, filled with stirring shots of the natural world and deep dives into a human realm flooded with tears and vodka.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Bilge Ebiri

    As the spiritual subtext took over, I couldn’t help but feel that something essential had been lost. The state overwhelms the individual; so, too, by the end, does this beautiful, strange movie.

    New York Magazine (Vulture) Full Review
  • Scott Tobias

    Leviathan itself feels like a brave, lonely act of rebellion against the system, deeply pessimistic about the possibility of it ever working in the people’s favor. It advocates for a stiff drink.

    The Dissolve Full Review
  • Dave Calhoun

    This is a whale of a movie, grotesque and a little bloated but impossible to ignore. Its power and its horrors sneak up on you.

    Time Out London Full Review
  • Tim Robey

    It’s a bleak but compassionate, glancingly comic and often satirically incendiary work about the pyramid structure of Russian corruption, with the little guy crushed helplessly beneath, and God, or at least the orthodox Church, perched at the top.

    The Telegraph Full Review
  • Roger Moore

    The politics are rarely overt. “Pussy Riot” stories pop up on TV, and the Orthodox Church’s role in the hierarchy (cozying up to power, serving as a calming “opiate” to the masses) is mocked. Zvyagintsev is a bit too willing, in this overlong film, to let the landscape, the remote setting and the insular world of crumbling apartment blocks, sagging houses, collapsing churches grey skies shape the film’s message.

    Tribune News Service Full Review
  • Tim Robey

    It’s really a radical experiment in non-fiction cinema – not seeking to enlighten or inform, but to disorientate us, practically to drown us, in a nightmare vision of the ocean’s power.

    The Telegraph Full Review
  • Melissa Anderson

    Plunging viewers into the thick of chaos, Leviathan explodes the antiquated paradigm of the documentary or ethnographic film, whose mission has traditionally been to educate or elucidate, to create something that seizes us, never letting us forget just how disordered the world is. This may be the greatest lesson any nonfiction film can teach us.

    Village Voice Full Review
  • Leviathan is a titanic achievement, a visceral overload whose impact registers immediately and with great force.

    Slant Magazine Full Review
  • Stephen Dalton

    A highly original film of uncompromising, other-worldly beauty. Leviathan demands to be seen, even if it means you never eat seafood again.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Gabe Toro

    The experience of Leviathan is wholly singular, without context, enveloping and immersive. In some ways, it might very well be the most terrifying picture of the year.

    The Playlist Full Review
  • Noel Murray

    Anyone who enjoys overpowering cinematic sensation and watching people do a job will be predisposed to like Leviathan, Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel’s avant-garde documentary about life aboard a commercial fishing vessel. Leviathan is an immersive experience, plunging viewers into darkness and chaos, amid a rush of vivid color and rapid movement.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • Peter Keough

    It is part Rorschach test and part theme park ride as the filmmakers shoot from the strangest places and from such odd perspectives that much of the film consists of trying to figure out what the heck is going on.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • Peter Bradshaw

    Not an easy watch, and something in which you must make an investment of attention – but a fascinating piece of work.

    The Guardian Full Review
  • Ian Freer

    Part fishing documentary, part filmmaking experiment, Paravel and Castaing-Taylor is remarkable, disorientating and unique gem.

    Empire Full Review
  • A.O. Scott

    Leviathan, a product of the Sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard, offers not information but immersion: 90 minutes of wind, water, grinding machinery and piscine agony.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Joshua Rothkopf

    The first and only piece of advice needed on one’s way to the fishing pond is this: Bring your patience. Not surprisingly, the same could be said to a viewer of this slow-building but riveting experimental collage.

    Time Out New York Full Review
  • Boyd van Hoeij

    Picture's title comes from the sea creature mentioned in the book of Job, which is briefly quoted at the film's opening. Cast list cheekily includes not only the names of the men aboard the vessel where the documentary was filmed, but also the Latin names of the species caught.

    Variety Full Review
  • Farran Smith Nehme

    The adventurous souls who stick with it, however, will find head-spinning images and a cumulative impact that does, in fact, amount to a story.

    New York Post Full Review
  • Neil Smith

    The results – achieved through small cameras clipped to nets, masts and the crew – will hook some and induce seasickness in others.

    Total Film Full Review
  • Dave Calhoun

    There are no interviews, characters nor narration, and after an hour it can feel like a chore. Yet the images are staggering.

    Time Out London Full Review
  • Gary Goldstein

    Though it's a decidedly arty piece, Leviathan, named after the biblical sea creature, also lacks much in the way of traditional beauty or splendor. However, the immersive shots of those swooping and circling sea gulls are quite something.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • Stephanie Zacharek

    The result is a self-conscious tone poem concocted from oblique camera angles, shots held longer than it takes a tadpole to reach maturity and nighttime images enhanced with a psychedelic glow. An alternate title for it might be "David Lynch, Gone Fishin'."

    NPR Full Review
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  • mayor

  • sea

  • attorney

  • lawyer

  • small town

  • corrupt politician

  • alcoholic

  • alcohol

  • vodka

  • infidelity

  • courtroom

  • husband wife relationship

  • female nudity

  • russia

  • alcoholism

  • friendship between men

  • stepmother

  • bible quote

  • church

  • arrest

  • drunk

  • nudity

  • picnic

  • eminent domain

  • corruption

  • father son relationship

  • one word title

  • whale

  • rural setting

  • biblical quotation

  • marital rape

  • domestic violence

  • skeleton

  • framed for murder

  • bulldozer

  • fishing village

  • crying child

  • depression

  • jealousy

  • folder

  • threat

  • gunshot

  • held at gunpoint

  • gun

  • hotel room

  • hotel

  • loss of wife

  • death of wife

  • cheating on husband

  • extramarital affair

  • affair

  • crying woman

  • crying man

  • building demolition

  • crying

  • shooting

  • character says i love you

  • lawlessness

  • written by director

  • eating

  • drinking

  • convicted of murder

  • title spoken by character

  • man wearing towel

  • male in shower

  • female frontal nudity

  • hairy chest

  • bare chested male

  • suicide

  • train

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