Challenging to best Russian authors when painting portraits of pain in the deepest, bleakest hues: “Anna Karenina”, “Roskolnikov”, “Prince Myshkin” doomed from conception to lives of sublime angst; possibly the callous weather, the vast isolation of the Russian landscape, unrelenting, unforgiving tumultuous power of the Barents and Caspian Seas, Volga River; futility of life under the Czars, the diminishment of the individual by totalitarian leadership; daunting, depressing, ultimately destructive.
“Leviathan” is enormous in scope; filmmaker Andrey Zvyagintsev in Hobbesian fashion pits the “little man” against the might of corrupted authority: “Kolia” (Aleksey Serebryakov) a mechanic, lives with his wife and son, by a previous marriage, in the home of his ancestors; brutish, inebriate “Vadim” (Roman Madianov) the Mayor who practices his own version of eminent domain and offers Kolia a fraction of what the property is worth; Kolia’s lawyer and friend “Dimitri” (Vladimir Vdovitchenkov) handsome, smooth sophisticate from Moscow pleads his case; Kolia’s wife “Lilya” (Elena Liadova) exquisitely, silently emanates, with Cassandra perspicacity, the dire outcome.
In the Book of Job, Leviathan is a menace, a monster rising from the black hole of the sea; pitiless, pounding waves, skeletal remains of whales, on otherwise naked beaches, pristine reminders of nature’s dominance over life; Kolia, a simple man, like Job, is defenseless against overwhelming vicissitudes; a platitudinous cleric, devoid of empathy is no substitute for the vodka that saturates, cascades from his pores as the tears from his eyes.
“Leviathan” is thundering in its tale of monumental corruption, greed, infidelity; when Kolia asks “Why, Lord?”, we wait, sinking imminently into an answerless void.
FOUR & 1/2 STARS!!!!