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.
Somewhere in Northern Russia in a small Russian Orthodox monastery lives an unusual man whose bizarre conduct confuses his fellow monks, while others who visit the island believe that the man has the power to heal, exorcise demons and foretell the future.
Dima Nikitin is an ordinary honest plumber who suddenly decides to face the corrupt system of local politics in order to save the lives of 800 inhabitants of an old dormitory, which is about to collapse.
A mother wants to reunite with her twin daughters. A young couple marry in church, but immediately after the ceremony, God - or maybe the Devil, or maybe Blind Fate - tests their love in ... See full summary »
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
Vladimir's profession is never mentioned in the film but Andrey Zvyagintsev and Andrey Smirnov discussed what it could be. They presupposed an elderly rich man from today's Russia could have been a security officer from the KGB, or a functionary of Komsomol (the youth division of the Soviet communist party), or a scientist who went into business after the Soviet Union collapse, and they decided Vladimir should be a scientist because Smirnov didn't look like the other two types. Despite the character's status, Smirnov considered him "an a**hole". See more »
Andrey Zvyagintsev's "Elena" is a not a pretty picture of modern Russia. One can see a stark contrast between the life of affluent life that the protagonist and her husband lead and the miserable life that her son leads. The gang that beats up a homeless man adds to the dismal factor. It's no accident that Elena does what she does towards the end.
Many of the shots last a couple of minutes each, creating a sense of realism. By all accounts, most of the characters see no future. Like Zvyagintsev's previous movie "The Return", it's a focus on a grim, unforgiving world (his more recent "Leviathan" focused on the same sort of topic but also incorporated corruption in the story). The residences alone show the difference: Elena and Vladimir live in a swanky loft, while her son lives in a crumbling apartment building (one of those Khrushchev-era edifices that had design problems from the start).
I recommend the movie. Along with the main plot, it poses the question: can Russia ever see a future?
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