Leviathan

Rated R 140 minutes

On the page, this might sound like a straightforward condemnation of Putin's Russia: a stoic family man tries to stop the seizure of his coastal property by the wealthy mayor, thereby rousing the combined wrath of government officials, law enforcement, and the Orthodox Church. Yet director Andrey Zvyagintsev renders this story strange by presenting it as the stuff of biblical allegory, invoking the perspective of an angry God with imposing landscape shots and a tone of preternatural dread. (Zvyagintsev makes his intentions explicit when one character likens the hero to a modern-day Job.) As in their previous feature, Elena, Zvyagintsev and cowriter Oleg Negin modulate their social critique with sharp, ironic humor; the mayor, in particular, is an inspired satirical creation, at once a spiteful monster and a graceless buffoon. In Russian with subtitles.

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