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'Leviathan': Movie review

11/06/2014

 

Beautiful parable about modern Russian pits a blue-collar Everyman against the powers that be

Though this year’s “Noah” and “Exodus” are impressive Hollywood spectacles, they lack the searing biblical power of “Leviathan.” Except this isn’t an Old Testament tale but a bleak, beautiful, and bitterly funny parable of post-Soviet Russia.

The blue-collar everyman Kolya (Aleksey Serebryakov) has slaved to build a house by the whale-patrolled shores of the Barents Sea. However, the ex-mobster mayor of Kolya’s town is bent on dispossessing him so he can develop the land for personal gain.

The courts, cops and church are in the mayor’s pocket, and he’s backed by a monstrous Russian state symbolized by the behemoth of the movie’s title. Though Kolya’s moody teenage son stands by him, his disillusioned second wife (Elena Lyadova) and his slick lawyer betray him. Then things get worse.

No wonder the vodka bottle beckons in this wrenchingly acted, remorseless modern masterpiece.

 

Graham Fuller
"NY Daily News"