It won the Golden Globe, was nominated for an Oscar, and was even considered for the Palme d’Or at Cannes. I was bored stiff.
This is one of those movies that make me feel bad about myself because although it’s a film about ‘ordinary’ people, it’s also supposed to be about more than just what’s on the surface. And I get that.
In a very pretty but also coastal town in Russia, Kolya has a wife who’s just not that into him and a son who’s just not that good at life. The town’s crooked mayor is trying to take his home and property, ostensibly for a telecoms mast, but Kolya suspects more personal reasons and is fighting him in court. In the dullest court scene ever shot, a woman drones on as she reads a summation of the case for several long-ass minutes without a breath at punctuation, if indeed there was any punctuation, which was hard to distinguish.
Most of his friends are only using him for his free mechanic services but he calls on one, an old army friend named Dmitri who’s now a lawyer, to help him with his property fight. Dmitri isn’t afraid to fight dirty in court, or in his personal life apparently, because before long he’s fucking Kolya’s wife.
So there’s hypocrisy. Crazy, crazy hypocrisy. Blind love, pretend friendship, misplaced trust. Bad religion. And the symbolism of the leviathan that’s obligatory but heavy-handed. I can see that it’s well-acted, and the outdoor shots were breathtaking. I don’t usually think of Russia like this and I’m glad I got to see it. But I didn’t connect with this film, at all. It was too harsh, and too dry. I know that critics loved it, and the Academy has called it one of the 5 best foreign movies in the world for 2014. Personally, I preferred both Mommy and Force Majeure (preferred both to Ida, which won, for that matter). But you know what? No one asked me.