Andrey Zvyagintsev makes heavyweight political dramas that move smoothly, hit hard and leave colourful bruises. His subject is a broken system, a lawless land, and so he fills his stories with scheming politicians and downtrodden victims. The bus shelters are festooned with missing person posters, a dead dog hangs in the boughs of a blighted city tree and the court officials pass judgment in such a rapid-fire monotone that the words lose all meaning. His films tell us that hell exists – and that its name is modern Russia.
In his homeland, predictably, the authorities have taken great umbrage at this. Having ardently championed Zvyagintsev in the past,