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
The block where Elena and Vladimir live is in Khamovniki, a prestigious district in the central Moscow. As of 2012, one apartment in that block cost around 10 million dollars. (Their apartment itself and its outside view, however, were filmed indoors, with artificial trees.) The block where Sergey's family live, and the power plant, are in Biryulyovo Zapadnoye District in the southern outskirts of Moscow. Director Andrey Zvyagintsev concealed the locations by replacing the street signs for the time of filming. See more »
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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