Andrei Zvyagintsev clearly believes that the pen, or camera, is mightier than the sword. In “Leviathan,” the director’s newest film (one that we gave an A), he depicts a struggle in a small Russian town between the mechanic Kolya (Alexei Serebryakov) who wants to keep a parcel of land from an eminent domain takedown by Mayor Vadim (Roman Madyanov). Kolya recruits his old friend Dimitri (Vladimir Vdovitchenkov), now a big shot Moscow lawyer, to make an appeal. The duo try to make the mayor pay a fair price for the land, or else take him out with the dossier of dirt they collected on Vadim. The mayor calls their bluff, and the feud threatens to escalate even further.
Zvyagintsev said this is a universal problem in government, and the story was inspired by a case in the United States. But he draws inspiration from the hopelessness that Russian government causes among its citizens. “[Living in Russia is] like being in a minefield, this is the feeling you live with here. It’s very hard to build any kind of prospects – in life, in your profession, in your career – if you are not plugged in to the values of the system. It’s a stupid construction of society, and unfortunately the eternal curse of our territory,” he said. “The ideas of the rule of law, of equal rights are hardly discussed here. There is discussion in society, but it’s pointless. I have a feeling of the absolute futility of pretending to the right to have a say in any situation. I’ve turned 50 and I’ve never voted in my life. Because I’m absolutely certain that in our system it’s a completely pointless step.”
The film is a comment on corruption in Russia and inspired by the book of Job. So there’s something here for the whole family, and four meaty clips just landed online. Check out why the film has generated so much buzz since Cannes. “Leviathan” opens on December 31st.