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.
On the outskirts of a small coastal town in the Barents Sea, where whales sometimes come to its bay, lives an ordinary family: Kolya (Aleksey Serebryakov), his wife Lilya (Elena Lyadova) and their teenage son Romka. The family is haunted by a local corrupted mayor (Roman Madyanov), who is trying to take away the land, a house and a small auto repair shop from Kolya. To save their homes Kolya calls his old Army friend in Moscow (Vladimir Vdovichenkov), who has now become an authoritative attorney. Together they decide to fight back and collect dirt on the mayor.Written by
In the satisfying tradition of dark Russian cinema.
The Priest: "All power comes from God. As long as it suits Him, fear not." The Mayor: "And so, it suits Him?"
God may not be immediately apparent in the god-forsaken Russian coastal town of the rewarding film Leviathan, but the devil surely resides there. Or let's just say the proletariat suffers for Politburo politics rather than God to an extent that is disruptive of daily life and lethal in the wrong circumstances. If you cross Crime and Punishment with a dollop of Dr. Zhivago, you might get a hint of how bleak and fateful this rugged world is, relieved by the beautiful timelessness of the landscape.
Kolya (Aleksay Serebryakov) is a vodka-swilling, perpetually smoking, car-fixing local doomed by the fates and his own temper. Not only does the corrupt local mayor, Vadim (Roman Madyanov), seem destined to seize Kolya's property for a patronage resort, but Kolya" wife, Lilya (Elena Lyadova), is also carrying on with his close friend and attorney, Dimi (Vladimir Vdovichenkov), and no good to come of either ill-fortunes.
I was captured the whole time by the sense of impending doom especially when director Andrey Serebryakov is featuring only decrepit buildings and sea wrecks. Given the Russian cinema tradition, those images are sure bets to represent the decay of a society that drinks and broods the whole long day. Not that it's a bad thing; it's just that doom creeps along at a petty pace as it circles victims like Kolya and Lilya, who are decent people but moved by passionate forces that emerge from the rocks and roiling sea. The devil is menacing, powerful, and relentless as it stalks its prey, notwithstanding the priest's counsel that God is the one calling the shots.
Leviathan, like the titular skeleton of a whale that serves as a figurative touchstone, is long, slow, and dark, confirming a stereotype of hardscrabble Russians trying to survive under the portraits of Putin and Gorbachov, the old and new struggling for the heart of the country. Think of Appalachia joined with Montgomery; now there's a whale of a comparison, and this is a behemoth of a film.
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