A film of magnificent ambition and grandeur, Zvyagintsev’s sober and compelling tragedy about one family's disintegration set against a backdrop of bureaucracy and political corruption, cemented his reputation as one of most significant directors in contemporary cinema.
Set on the edge of civilisation in Northern Russia, Leviathan tells of the tragic conflict between a car mechanic Kolya (Alexei Serebriakov) and a corrupt mayor (a fantastically despicable Roman Madyanov) who wants Kolya's land to build a gruesome luxury dacha. Kolya, a tough frontiersman who feels that he has already relinquished quite enough to the state, with its dodgy cops and shady politicians, tries desperately to resist the sale with the help of a childhood friend, but finds the noose tightening around his neck from every perceivable angle.
Despite Zvyagintsev’s insistence of the universal themes of the story, the masterful way his film conveys a sense of pervasive political corruption, leaves it hard not to read it as a daring and scathing critique of conditions in Vladimir Putin’s Russia. It is undoubtedly the work of a master filmmaker and one of the most important and imposing films to emerge from Russia in recent memory.