Foreign Film Friday: Leviathan

Kolya lives in a small fishing town near the stunning Barents Sea in Northern Russia. He owns an auto-repair shop that stands right next to the house where he lives with his young wife Lilya and his son Roma from a previous marriage.

The town’s corrupt mayor Vadim Shelevyat is determined to take away his business, his house, as well as his land. First the Mayor tries buying off Kolya, but Kolya unflinchingly fights as hard as he can so as not to lose everything he owns including the beauty that has surrounded him from the day he was born. Facing resistance, the mayor starts being more aggressive…

Things don’t always work out in the end— at least that is the lesson I learned from watching Leviathan. Depicting the corruption of modern day Russia, I firmly believed I was watching another underdog movie where the main character battles the strong hand of government and wins. Instead, with victory in sight, the tables are turned.

It is for this mix up that this movie stands out amongst all the other movies I’ve watched over the past year. There is no happy ending, there is no retribution, but there is truth. Past all the vodka drinking, sailor swearing, and lada driving, what should be taken away from this movie are the struggles of people who live under the control of a corrupt government. Often times we tend to forget how privileged we actually are.

Leviathan is strictly performed in the Russian language, but offers a variety of subtitles. One thing I enjoyed most was reading all of the Russian words in the background. Their alphabet alone is very interesting, a cross between modern and old.

Rating: ★★★★ (4/5 stars)

Quick Facts—
Directed by: Andrey Zvyagintsev
Released: 23 May 2014 (Cannes)
5 February 2015 (Russia)
2014 thru 2015 (Worldwide)
Country: Russia
Language: Russian
Full Cast:
Aleksei Serebryakov – Kolya
Elena Lyadova – Vadim
Vladimir Vdovichenkov – Dmitri
Roman Madyanov – Lilya
Sergey Pokhodaev – Roma
Anna Ukolova – Angela
Aleksey Rozin – Pacha
Roman Madianov – Vadim Shelevyat

Jack Achenbach

Jack Achenbach

I am an SLE Storyteller and a culinary nutrition student at Johnson & Wales University who believes that there is no limit to the size of one’s imagination nor the paths one travels. I am a writer, a sucker for a great story. I am chef with a culinary passion. I am an adventurer because I explore what yet I have not seen. I am a dreamer because I dream the impossible dream.

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