Thursday, 5 March 2015

On 5.3.15 by KieronMoore in , , ,    No comments

Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan has caused quite the controversy recently; despite international acclaim including an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globes win, it’s not gone down well in its native Russia, with the cinema release subject to cuts and the Minister of Culture criticising its portrayal of the country. Watching the film, now available on DVD, it’s not difficult to work out why.

Leviathan follows Kolya, a heavy-drinking, ill-tempered everyman whose property is being repossessed by the government. Despite strong evidence that the repossession is illegal, he’s up against a corrupt mayor who’ll use every trick in the book to get one over on him, and his case begins to crumble when his lawyer begins an affair with Kolya’s wife. Oh, and his son’s a bit of a delinquent.

Yes, if you’re tired of cinema that puts a smile on your face, you’ll enjoy Leviathan’s harrowingly downbeat realism. You’ll repeatedly think ‘well, at least it can’t get any worse for him now’ only to be proven magnificently wrong.

But in this relentless despair lies the power of Leviathan; it’s a strongly anti-government film, in which the cops and the mayor are equally self-serving, and there’s little the poor, oppressed citizen can do when faced with uncaring, inaccessible bureaucracy.

Despite his anger management issues (or perhaps because of them – it makes him more human and relatable than his antagonists), it’s hard not to root for Kolya in his struggle against the leviathan that is the system, and it’s remarkable that this film got made at all in Putin’s Russia, a country that, it’s fair to say, isn’t renowned for its embracing of liberal media.


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