Leviathan (PG) ****

Mixed Blessings!

LeviathanMother Russia comes under lots of scrutiny in Leviathan. Hot off a win at the foreign press association’s lavish Golden Globes ceremony this smart drama from Sony Pictures Classics is certainly living up to all sorts of expectations at The Fifth Avenue Cinemas in trendy Kitsilano.

British Columbia and the Lower mainland in particular are currently in the grip of a real estate boom. Land is a premium commodity. Funny the same development fever hits the main characters in Leviathan. Set amidst the wintry months in a rural community borers by water waves are created when one man’s land becomes the centre in a political football.

Tug of wars on multiple levels confront property owner/mechanic Nikolai. Spot on is the portrayal by Alexsey Serebryakov who is a bit of a hot head. Besides going up a corrupt mayor our family man must also wrestle with some personal problems on the Homefront. Parents will be able to relate to the difficulty in raising a teenage son as well as keeping the love light burning at home.

Pressure and tension are front and centre in this well acts tale that elevates your stands tale of loneliness, boredom, corruption and infidelity to new heights (or lows, depending on your sensibilities. Forceful acting by Elena Lyadova with personal problems of her own and Roman Madyanov as a sleazy politician prove that normal folks can get in over this heads especially when dealing with the government.

Told in Russian with easy to follow English subtitles Leviathan is a not too subtle look at life in present day Russia. First class acting, an authentic Soviet atmosphere and intriguing characters from the imaginative pen of director Andrey Zvyagintsev make Leviathan engaging and entertaining despite its overlong 140 minute length.

By Robert Waldman