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Leviathan (2014) Review

Leviathan is a Russian film that follows a small family as they fight to keep their land from the corrupt town mayor with the help of an army friend turned lawyer from Moscow. I tried to keep that synopsis as short as possible as this film is one of those films that I would recommend anyone seeing and there are so many levels to it that outlining the narrative is barely touching the surface of what is a dark masterpiece reflecting Russia.

One of the first things you will probably notice about the film, or even from the first few shots, is how beautifully shot it is. The scenery that is shown in the film is stunning and the camera and the way the shots are framed most definitely do it justice. There are also a lot of hidden symbols and foreshadowing in some of the shots so it is really worth focusing on them. It is also amazing how stark a juxtaposition the land is to the awful things that happen on it and it shows that even the most beautiful places can be poisoned by corruption.

The acting is also really good. I don’t usually watch many foreign language films as I don’t really like having to read the subtitles but it was different with Leviathan as there was no disconnect between the actors and me due to not being able to understand them. They were a perfect fit for the characters they were playing and they conveyed all of their emotions awesomely. My favourite performance has to go to the mayor as he was the most convincing out of everyone and in some scenes he really looked like the corrupt official who was trying to cling onto his job which he played.

Without giving too much away the narrative of this film is the cherry on the cake. It gives a snapshot into what Russia is really like with people losing everything they have to corruption and the needs and wants of those in power. The film is peppered with dark humour and them plunges you into the bleak reality of what life is like for some people. You can probably sense as well that this film confronts some serious issues such as the corruption but also the alcohol use of some of the characters and, one of the most hidden but overriding themes, religion. Again I don’t want to reveal too much but one of the final scenes in the church is really important for the theme of religion and is one of my favourites in the film.

Overall Leviathan is a really good film that I would highly recommend people watch. It is one of my favourite films of the year and is really interesting for the political people out there. I urge anyone to look past it being a Russian film that is subtitled as this really doesn’t take away from the experience of what is a truly great film.

Callum Bate