Sonntag, 29. Juni 2014

Filmfest München: Левиафан (Leviathan)

Russian writer/director Andrey Zvyagintsev's "Левиафан (Leviathan)" is a lucidly, almost dispassionately told relationship drama/social satire with comedic intermissions, moral implications and political undertones. As the description would suggest, it aims wide, tackling a broad range of subjects from family, friendship, loyalty, corruption, to the fundamental questions of guilt and innocence. As a direct consequence the attention of the filmmaker gets spread thin a little, so that not all of these themes are treated fully or thoroughly. Some of them get dropped in unsatisfying haste, like the conclusion of the first legal dispute and the end of a long-standing bond. Others are substantially underdeveloped, as in the case of a major plot point in the final act, where we are not nearly well-informed enough to comprehend the why's and how's.

That said, the direction coaxes a delicate authenticity out of the happenings, making you believe in every laugh break amidst lots of somberness. The camerawork, except for a couple of beautiful location shots, is strong in a not-attention-grabbing way. It follows the characters intimately in fluid movements without ever seeming obtrusive or obvious. The cast, especially, is tremendous, each of them bringing a needed color to this mosaic of personalities and human longings. It's hard to single out any one of the actors, but Elena Lyadova as the stoic, enigmatic wife, Anna Ukolova as her spirited, freewheeling friend, and Roman Madyanov as the hedonistic, deliciously single-minded mayor all give naturalistic, undeniably delightful performances.

Non-film-related reasons to see this movie: experience the superhuman Russian language being read at superhuman speed in two court scenes / witness how the Russians drink their vodka, I mean, wow.

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