Tuesday, January 27, 2015

[Review] Leviathan

Not to be confused with 2013's documentary of the same name, Leviathan is a Russian small-town drama loosely inspired by the book of Job from the bible. In a way, Leviathan feels like a spiritual cousin to the recent Winter Sleep, but thankfully it isn't quite as stagnant and tedious.

Set in a peninsula by the Barents Sea, the film revolves around a guy named Kolia (Alexei Serebriakov) and his hectic battle to keep his property from being bought by the city's vastly crooked mayor. The narrative thoroughly explores the general and wide-ranging problems that occur when power is corrupted on multiple levels.

It's all undeniably bleak. This is the sort of film where nothing good comes out of anything. People get screwed. Everyone cheats. Morals are twisted. Despite its gloomy tone, the film brings in the type of tragic and satirical humor that points to how relentlessly messed up everything is, and sometimes all you can do is deliriously laugh at it. These constantly stark outings are difficult to swallow in one sitting, and mileage will certainly vary. The sedate pacing, detail-heavy dialogue, and lack of connection from the cold characters makes this less than engrossing for the most part.

In Leviathan, the sun is always obscured by clouds. The imagery is striking, especially a slideshow-like sequence of the shores near the conclusion. Just like the tide, the story never fully settles. In fact, it ends even more unsettled than when it began.


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