Leviathan (2014)

Original Title

Левиафан Leviafan





Aleksei Serebryakov, Elena Lyadova, Vladimir Vdovichenkov, Roman Madyanov, Anna Ukolova, Aleksey Rozin, Sergey Pokhodaev, Platon Kamenev, Sergey Bachurskiy


In a small Russian coastal town, Kolya (Aleksei Serebryakov) is forced to fight the corrupt mayor (Roman Madyanov) when he is told that his house will be demolished. To save his home Kolya calls his old Army friend in Moscow, Dmitriy (Vladimir Vdovichenkov), who has now become an authoritative attorney. But the man's arrival brings further misfortune for Kolya and his family.


Not a random title for Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev's latest film, which on the one hand refers to the biblical symbol, and on the other to the symbol of the negative political anthropology of the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes.

Fairly slow paced, Leviathan is a bitter film, slightly depressing and with no happy ending that mixes with great ambition politics, religion, and judicial system.

Kolya, the protagonist of the film, as in the book of Job, loses everything in a brief time: wife, friends, son, and freedom. Yet this time is not God to test him, but a corrupt political power, and a sense of helplessness drowned in alcohol.

What makes this film interesting is the criticism to the Russian society. Alcohol and smoking are the hub of socialization: the bottle of Vodka always there, and the cigarette that marks conversations - the nightly meetings of the kids at the ruined church is the most prominent example. Equally severe is the criticism of the Orthodox Church. 

The best scene, in my opinion, is the court's one(s). Criticized by many because over long and also repeated at the end of the film, demonstrates the Kafkaesque character of the judicial system.

Even the cold Barents Sea, beautifully shot in the opening and closing sequences, and the sublime musical score by Philip Glass take part in the tragedy. The acting is very good, having Aleksei Serebryakov as Kolya standing out from the crowd. 

I know that this film was based on an event actually happened in the United States, but I still wonder how it has been received by the Russian government and the Orthodox Church. 


  1. This seems like a good movie, but a ruthless one. Be prepared for the goings of this one to be emotionally heavy and despairing at times, but seems well worth the watch!

    My recent movie review: http://olivia-savannah.blogspot.nl/2015/09/the-fast-and-furious-movie-review.html

  2. I have heard that the director received governmental financing for the film (as part of subsidising Russian made filmography), but afterwards, when the governmental agency watched the film, they weren't very happy and there was some censorship for certain parts. Well, I am not so sure of my source, so that may not be true.

    Since you are reviewing film from the East of you, I am curious what will be your opinion on something brighter and not Russian. I would suggest watching, if you could find it and have the desire, 'Светът е голям и спасение дебне отвсякъде'

    1. Thank you. I think that might be true, I also read about the censorship. I'll watch the movie you suggested as soon as I find it. Hopefully I'll find it.