“Leviathan”: A black humor of social themes, and a subtle satire of Putin’s regime

Movie Review

“Leviathan” (Левиафан) is a Russian feature film directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev in 2014.

The film is starring Aleksei Serebryakov, Elena Lyadova and Vladimir Vdovichenkov.

“Leviathan” was shortlisted for the main competition unit of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and won the Best Screenplay Award.

This film represents Russia’s competition and was shortlisted for the 87th Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

“Leviathan” won the 72nd Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

The story is set in a small port city on the coast of the Barents Sea in northwestern Russia.

The protagonist Nikolay, his ex-wife’s son Romka, and his young and beautiful wife Lilya lead a peaceful life.

"Leviathan": A black humor of social themes, and a subtle satire of Putin's regime

Nikolay has his own small building. A small river flows through the floor-to-ceiling windows of the house. An auto repair shop runs on the ground floor of the small building.

When the local corrupt mayor came to forcibly expropriate Nikolay’s houses and land in the name of public facilities construction, the prelude to the tragedy of life began.

Nikolay sued the government for unfair collection of fees and illegal procedures, but was not accepted by the court and was relocated within a time limit.

With the help of his lawyer friend Dmitriy, Dmitriy, with evidence that Mayor Vadim violated the law, asked Vadim to increase the payment of demolition compensation.

Later, Vadim found someone to beat and threaten the lawyer.

"Leviathan": A black humor of social themes, and a subtle satire of Putin's regime

While Dmitry lived in Korya’s house for a while, he had an affair with Lilya, Nikolay’s wife.

The incident was later discovered by Nikolay. Nikolay had a conflict with Dmitriy, and Dmitriy had also threatened Lilya.

Dmitriy was forced to leave here and return to Moscow.

Feeling guilty, Lilya chose to dive and die.

Due to the perjury made by the police, Nikolay was arrested as a suspected murderer of his wife, and was finally sentenced to 15 years in prison by the court.

His underage son Romka was adopted by a friend.

"Leviathan": A black humor of social themes, and a subtle satire of Putin's regime

Nikolay’s house was subsequently demolished and Mayor Vadim’s demolition plan was realized. He was also satisfied with the criminal punishment Nikolay received.

Andrey Zvyagintsev and Oleg Negin are adapted from “The Book of Job”.

There are more than 15 characters in “Leviathan” and most of these actors have worked with the director many times.

Kirovsk, Kola Peninsula, northwestern Russia was the shooting location.

Preparations for “Leviathan” began in May 2013, and the filming dates are from August to October.

“Leviathan”‘s investment mainly comes from the Russian Ministry of Culture and the Russian Film Fund.

The title comes from the book “Leviathan” published in 1651 by the famous British political philosopher Thomas Hobbes.

"Leviathan": A black humor of social themes, and a subtle satire of Putin's regime

“Leviathan” is about the relationship between the state contract and citizens.

The film’s story and protagonist are adapted from the character prophet Job in the Hebrew Bible.

Producer Alexander Rodnyansky said: “It deals with some of the most important social issues in contemporary Russia. It is a story about the love and tragedy of modern people.”

“Leviathan” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on May 23, 2014.

The film will be distributed by Curzon Cinemas in the UK, and Palace Entertainment in Australia and New Zealand.

After “Leviathan” was released in North America, the media reviewed 91 points, and the freshness of rotten tomatoes was as high as 99%, which was a compliment.

“Leviathan” satirizes the situation in post-Soviet Russia through the tragedy of the protagonist.

It explores the state’s dereliction of service to the people, the scale of exposure to the corruption of the Russian regime, and its pessimistic attitude towards the Russian political system, which is amazing.

The music composed by Philip Glass in “Leviathan” is exquisite and beautiful with Ceylon-style pictures, and the wonderful performances of the actors are impeccable.

What is particularly worth mentioning is the cold humor that the director cleverly incorporates in order to find a balance for the heavy theme.

If you say that the whole “Leviathan” is shocking, from the government’s corrupt and judicial lack to the tragedy of a love triangle, from the mysterious disappearance to the black detective convicted of murder, and then sublimated to the religious confession.

“Leviathan”‘s overly ambitious and dramatic plot transitions laid out, apart from the message it conveys, it also distracted the power that could have been focused.

This has become a point of controversy for “Leviathan”.

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