Leviathan

Leviathan ★★★★

So much better than the other Leviathan movie I saw this year.

Russia is a really good looking country. Director Andrey Zvyagintsev grew up there and this movie is proof he knows. This is a winter painting of Northern Russian and a family that is coming apart. Winner of Best Screenplay at Cannes, it manages to cram a ton of captivating interaction in between the book ends of beautiful landscape photography.

The story could seen to be loosely based on Job, a character in the bible. Kolya is a father who is up against some big fish. He has lost his property and the only people in a position to change that are corrupt government officials that are buying his lot. It's clear from the beginning, without the property the family will disintegrate. The house, a serene, reflecting space, is the foundation that Kolya helped build. It's been in his family for generations but the wants of a few look to change that.

This movie is surprisingly funny. The first half of the feature almost plays like a Coen brother's film. Very funny at times but with violence always around the corner. The trick here is that it doesn't show it's hand too early. I didn't really know what I was getting into. It is a powerful film. It preaches against religion, against power, and even calls out a few notable Russian figures. Everything seems to be working against our protagonist. Instead of reaching out towards religion, he reaches out and grabs a bottle of vodka. And that of course doesn't help. But really what does? He is up against an unbeatable force. A force every bit as powerful as God. With the ability to end your life or simply string it along as it sees fit.