Elena (2011)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama  |  29 September 2011 (Russia)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 7,650 users   Metascore: 87/100
Reviews: 53 user | 128 critic | 16 from Metacritic.com

When a sudden illness and an unexpected reunion threaten dutiful housewife Elena's potential inheritance, she must hatch a desperate plan ...



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Andrey Smirnov ...
Aleksey Rozin ...
Evgeniya Konushkina ...
Igor Ogurtsov ...
Vasiliy Michkov ...
Lawyer (as Vasily Michkov)
Aleksey Maslodudov
Ekaterina Tarkovskaya
Ivan Mulin
Nikita Slepchenkov
Yury Borisov
Igor Yurtaev
Yaroslav Zhalnin
Vasily Prokopyev


Elena and Vladimir are an older couple, they come from different backgrounds. Vladimir is a wealthy and cold man, Elena comes from a modest milieu and is a docile wife. They have met late in life and each one has children from previous marriages. Elena's son is unemployed, unable to support his own family and he is constantly asking Elena for money. Vladimir's daughter is a careless young woman who has a distant relationship with her father. A heart attack puts Vladimir in hospital, where he realizes that his remaining time is limited. A brief but somehow tender reunion with his daughter leads him to make an important decision: she will be the only heiress of his wealth. Back home he announces it to Elena. Her hopes to financially help her son suddenly vanish. The shy and submissive housewife then comes up with a plan to give her son and grandchildren a real chance in life. Written by Cannes Film Festival

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




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Official Sites:



Release Date:

29 September 2011 (Russia)  »

Also Known As:

Jelena  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$9,035 (USA) (18 May 2012)


$23,278 (USA) (13 June 2014)

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Andrey Smirnov was director Andrey Zvyagintsev's only choice to play Vladimir. Zvyagintsev usually doesn't let his actors read the script before filming but he gave it to Smirnov when he offered him the role. At first Smirnov, himself a director, had no intention to act in the film and warned Zvyagintsev during the casting that he couldn't interrupt the editing process of Zhila-byla odna baba (2011), his first film in over 30 years. Zvyagintsev came to Smirnov's place about a month after the casting in order to try to persuade him to star and Smirnov said it was out of the question as he was too busy editing his film, but his wife and son, who were at home too, lashed out at Smirnov, saying he couldn't refuse an offer from a director like Zvyagintsev. The latter promised to adjust the filming schedule for Smirnov. In the end, Smirnov filmed his role when he had days off in April 2010 and managed to devote two weeks to filming in May. See more »


Katerina: Shit's gotta be tasty, millions of flies can't be wrong.
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Referenced in Pozner: Andrey Zvyagintsev (2011) See more »


Symphony No. 3: Movement Non III
Written by Philip Glass
Performed by Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Martin Alsop
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User Reviews

Russian class
16 January 2014 | by (Saffron Walden, UK) – See all my reviews

Andrey Zvyagintsev 's 'The Return' is my favourite film to date of the 21st century. 'Elena', a personal drama that illuminates the class structure in contemporary Russia, is not quite so powerful – it's very slow, and the ambiguity of motive that drove the earlier film is not there. And on first viewing it wasn't clear to me whether the shocking but strangely ambivalent ending is a work of genius or the sign of a film that has lost its focus. Still, the director's ability to construct haunting, unexpected images has not deserted him; some scenes reminded me of Keislowski in his Polish phase, just about the highest praise I can give.

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