140 min - Drama "Leviafan" (original title)

Review: Matt Mungle

LEVIATHAN is a powerful Russian drama nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Its depiction of a hard working man's attempt to keep his family home is gritty, powerful, and full of raw human emotion. Most art house theaters will have this on the big screen and viewers should make the effort to check it out.

Nikolai (Aleksey Serebryakov) and his wife Lilya (Elena Lyadova) live in a small coastal town in the home Nikolai grew up in. The house has seen better days but they manage to keep it clean and livable. They are not a family of wealth and like most of the working class they manage how they can. When a corrupt mayor (Roman Mayan) tries to force Nikolai out and seize the property Nikolai asks a long time friend and lawyer from Moscow (Vladimir Vdovichenkov) to come and help him in the fight.

The tale of politicians bullying the working class is the same in any language. This makes the struggle of Nikolai not just a Russian story but one that moist can relate to and sympathize with. Writer/Director Andrey Zvyagintsev does a solid job of weaving the story of corruption and bureaucrats in with a powerful supporting cast of characters. Nikolai's has friends on both sides of the law and they pull together to help when they can. At the center is Nikolai and his mental state. The question of can he hold it together is always at the forefront.

Lyadova is sensational in the role. Her character love her husband but dreams of a better life. A dream that will drive her to make difficult decisions. Serebryakov is able to deliver the staggering performance he does because of the help of her and others.This combined with the riveting story and cinematography make it a splendid film. I give it 4.5 out of 5 whale bones. It is a worthy addition to the Oscar noms.


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