Leviathan ★★★★

Andrey Zvyagintsev is a director who has received countless praise in underground circles in the last decade and a half for his films about social corruption. This latest release was one of the best films of 2014, a status which has been somewhat confirmed by the users of this lovely site.

Leviathan begins as a slightly Kafkaesque analysis on bureaucracy, following the legal conflict between the protagonist and the mayor. This dry and artificial opening left me bemused - surely, a director with Zyvagintsev's reputation could create a more ambitious plot than this? Surely enough, relationships corroded, documents were filed and sermons were given. Several extra elements were thus added - religious motifs, themes of corruption, wonderful images of nature; a feminist would argue a misogynist perspective is raised here. But none of these concepts are truly fleshed out, and given time and space to truly flourish.

Despite these mild grievances, one must comment on some of the striking scenes in Leviathan. Some are destructive, others are simply jaw-dropping. There is an excellent synergy between the actors, and the direction and script complements them wonderfully.

An excellent feature, and deeply open to interpretation. But is it film of the year? A resounding no.

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