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Leviathan is a retelling of the book of Job from the Bible, where a small and simple man is fiercely tested by his God. The story brings us to a small fishing village in Russia, where Kolya , a simple and hardworking man lives with his son Roma and his new wife Lilya. It's clear from the beginning that this is not a harmonious family as Roma is rebelling against his father and stepmother Lilya especially and not willing to accept her. The local town , symbolized by a terribly corrupt mayor wants to evict Kolya and his family from their house in order to demolish it. Kolya hires his best friend Dima , a lawyer from Moscow to fight the eviction in court.
The Leviathan from the title points to the immense corruption that pervades Russian society. In that way this is some kind of wonder that the Russian Ministry of Culture have approved this film. The rights of the small man don't mean anything at all, as the mayor points out in some drunken vodka-infused rant : they're all insects, put on the earth to be trampled. He feels above the law, when he shows up completely drunk , accompanied by some bodyguards to personally threaten Kolya and his family.
By the way, the main characters all seem to self-medicate heavily with bottle upon bottle of vodka , in order to escape the reality of what is happening to them.
The movie is about the interpersonal relationships between the main characters , father and son, husband and wife, Kolya and Dima, .. all playing out against the backdrop of utter and unstoppable corruption. So pervasive and evil that it almost becomes farcical.
This movie is extremely powerful, there are some images in there that will be burnt into your retina's for years to come. Some landscapes are especially haunting. I truly loved it, and wasn't expecting the gut punch it gave me at times.
So Russia... are you ok?
No, seriously, incredibly beautiful film, although it lacks a bit of subtleness for my taste. With that said, cinema should aim towards this kind of works.
Beautiful filmmaking that held my interest for the full 140 minutes.
Zvyagintsev's Vozvrashchenie AKA The Return (2003) is well worth seeking out too, as indicated by the numerous lCM lists it's on. ;-)
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In 3 official lists
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This movie ranks #47 in BBC's The 21st Century's 100 Greatest Films
This movie ranks #214 in TSPDT's 21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films
This movie ranks #300 in Academy Award - Best International Feature Film Nominees