Corruption, hopelessness and vodka
Palace Brighton Bay, 15/03 3:00pm
Running time: 140m
Classification: M (Mature themes, coarse language, sexual references, nudity and violence)
Release date: 26/03/15
Cost: $14.50 (Palace Membership)
Rating: 6.5/10 (ME 3/5, DP 3.5/5)
Leviathan is a movie set in a small and bleak coastal town in northwest Russia, telling the story of the struggle of the working class against a corrupt system. We witness Kolya (Aleksey Serebryakov) trying everything in his power (including blackmail) to hold onto his home and business, which are being unjustly seized by the Mayor of the town (Roman Madyanov) with negligible compensation being offered in return. The Mayor covets the location as the site of his own new home and through the machinations of the local judiciary (staffed by many of his cronies) is able to obtain a court order that seemingly makes the seizure legal. When Kolya enlists the help of his lawyer friend Dmitri (Vladimir Vdovichenkov) to fight the decision, he could not begin to imagine how this will ultimately impact his life and also the lives of his young second wife Lilya (Elena Lyadova) and son Roma (Sergey Pokhodaev). As politics , the judicial system and religion are shown to work in complicity to ensure that the imbalance of power remain in effect, we witness any belief that Kolya may have still had in the system, very quickly evaporating.
The main cast, led by Serebryakov as Kolya, provide strong and believable performances (Kolya, desperate and angry; Lilya, fragile and conflicted; Dmitri, calm and controlled; the Mayor; the embodiment of corruption). They are also supported well by a clever array of secondary characters. The standout supporting performance was provided by Anna Ukolova as Angela, a friend of the family and colleague of Lilya at the fish processing factory where they both work. She provides much sarcastic commentary about men and officials and delivers some of the few lighter moments and laughs in this movie. Another noticeable supporting character is vodka. Consumed to excess (even more so as the outlook for Kolya and his family worsens), vodka is ever prevalent and is shown as the refuge sought by these people, to help with suppressing their pain and feelings of utter hopelessness.
Leviathan is a story of corruption and betrayal that is bathed in melancholy. It has a stark and gritty realism brought to life by some excellent cinematography, delivering stunning images of the bleak landscape, beautiful bay location and the crumbling infrastructure of the town. An effective mix of powerful pieces of music, together with many long silences further assists to evoke the appropriate mood for this movie. This is a long film, at almost two and a half hours, that can be hard work; at times uncomfortable and unlikable, yet remaining intriguing and powerful. It is definitely worth seeing if you can find it on limited release. (DP)