Bearing a mantel of authenticity as heavy as rain itself, the allegorical weight of “Leviathan” is both lyrical and blunt, compacted experience suggestive of many things, some mystical and some merely sodden, and not entirely drawn from the book of Job. The grimness of Putin’s post-Soviet project is draped upon the shoulders of one honorable auto mechanic whose family home on a prime stretch along the Bering Sea is about to be taken by a drunken, corrupt politician. Andrey Zvyagintsev hardly bothers to disguise his momentous, taut allegory of world-weariness in contemporary Russia, nor his interest in ever larger, ever-unanswerable questions. Tempers simmer, imbibe, combust, with righteously apocalyptic fury. Did I mention that it might also be the year’s most accomplished black comedy? A gurgling in the darkness that leads only to truest blackness? “Leviathan” is one lovingly tooled blunderbuss. The cinematography by Mikhail Krichman is a marvel of crispness and precision in course of sinking into one moral swamp after another. With Vladimir Vdovichenkov, Aleksey Serebryakov, Anna Ukolova. Widescreen. 141m. (Ray Pride)
“Leviathan” opens Friday, January 9 at the Music Box.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published later this year.