Leviathan Blu-ray Review

     Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, AC-3, Dolby, Widescreen
  • Language: Russian
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures
  • Release Date: May 19, 2015



              Leviathan is not a simple film. The plot is easily described and the approach is fairly direct, but there are layers upon layers of meaning and significance to be garnered from Andrey Zvyagintsev’s film. This is a movie that begs to be analyzed rather than reviewed, leaving me struggling to find the appropriate words for those who have not yet experienced it. While wholly Russian in tone and style, Leviathan is also universally accessible in dealing with issues of pain and suffering. Though there is plenty of political injustice spearheading this struggle, the movie is more interested in the human reaction to the unfairness of life, essentially playing out a modern-day parable from the Book of Job.


            The themes and ideas of the movie may come from biblical inspiration, but the plot itself also utilizes a series of actual events that occurred in both Granby, Colorado and in Kirovsk, Murmansk, in 2008 and 2009, respectively. Political corruption and injustice is a subject universally relatable, adapted into the fictional tale of a simple man named Kolya (Aleksey Serebryakov), who is in danger of losing his home to the corrupt mayor of a Russian coastal town. Refusing to give in to the political bullying, Kolya calls upon a lawyer friend (Vladimir Vdovichenkov) from Moscow, unaware that this will set in motion a series of events that will only add to his personal suffering.


            Kolya takes a variety of approaches in attempting to fight the injustice set against him by local officials, all to no avail. Despite the pleas from his wife (Elena Lyadova) to simply move away, Kolya insists on staying to fight for the right to remain in the house he built with his own hands. This may be in part to show his teenage son that it is important to stand up for oneself, though eventually it is clear that there is an issue of ego which refuses to allow Kolya to submit. When his attempts to fight the system through valid legal procedure are unsuccessful, Kolya and his lawyer turn to their own questionable methods as a last effort to fight the corruption.


            Zvyagintsev wisely layers the film with humor and humanity, usually within sequences of heavy vodka consumption and the dynamics of small-town relationships. This is a necessary break from the constant onslaught of injustice which runs through the 141-minute running-time, beginning to end. Somber as the subject and individual events are, it is helpful to have the tone of the film leavened slightly. Even with this complexly accomplished filmmaking, it is nearly impossible to finish the film without feeling a sense of anger and despair, not just for the fictional story told but also the likeliness of events such as these to occur in real life.


            The film itself is gorgeously shot, in contrast to the ugliness of the underlining events taking place in the seaside territory, and looks fantastic on high definition Blu-ray. The other benefits of this disc over the DVD release are a handful of exclusive special features, including deleted scenes and a Q&A with Zvyagintsev from the Toronto International Film Festival. Additionally in the extras is a making-of featurette, as well as a feature-length commentary with Zvyagintsev and producer Alexander Rodnyansky.


    Entertainment Value: 7/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 8.5/10

    Historical Significance:  7.5/10

    Special Features: 8/10

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