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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'Leviathan': A Palpable and Absorbing Tale of Corruption, Religion and Fate in Modern-Day Russia

Leviathan (Левиафан) (2014) is a palpable and absorbing Russian drama starring Aleksei Serebryakov as Kolya, a hot-tempered mechanic in the coastal town of Pribrezhny in Northwestern Russia. Residing with his second wife Lilya (Elena Lyadova) and teenage son Roma (Sergey Pokhodyaev), Kolya falls into a struggle with the town's corrupt mayor Vadim (Roman Madyanov) who intends to seize the property where Kolya's ancestral home rests.

With the mayor threatening to expropriate the land in order to build a telecommunications tower, Kolya hires his close friend Dima (Vladimir Vdovichenkov) to travel from Moscow to serve as his lawyer in the dispute. Vadim, in turn, consults with a local bishop in the Russian Orthodox Church (Valeriy Grishko) who describes human power as emanating directly from God and encourages a forceful approach to his dealings with Kolya. Yet the bishop's ultimate intentions remain dubious as the two sides engage in a heated legal conflict beset by illicit passions and rash decision-making.

Co-written and directed by acclaimed Russian filmmaker Andrey Zvyagintsev (The Return, Loveless), Leviathan is a deeply penetrating depiction of calamitous discord and human frailty. Serebryakov delivers an evocative performance as the mournful Kolya, desperate to safeguard his family and family heritage in the face of grievous misconduct. With biblical inspiration from the Book of Job and Naboth's Vineyard, Zvyagintsev has crafted a galvanizing tale of corruption—and a darkly satirical depiction of Russian society in the 21st Century..


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