Check out our review of this compelling foreign film that pulls no punches in leaving its mark on the social conscience of its setting. In a small coastal town in Russia lives an ordinary family: Kolya (Aleksey Serebryakov) his wife Lilya, and their teenage son Roma. The family is haunted by a local corrupt mayor who is trying to take away Kolya’s business, house and precious land. Kolya calls in an old friend, now an authoritative attorney, for help. Together they fight back and collect dirt on the mayor, but fate does not seem to be on Kolya’s side.
Studio and Year:
The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Sony Pictures Classics - 2014
Feature running time:
Russian DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English/French Dolby Digital
English, English SDH, French
Aleksey Serebryakov, Elena Lyadova, Vladimir Vdovichenkov, Roman Madyanov
Oleg Negin & Andrey Zvyagintsev
Blu-ray Disc release Date:
May 19, 2015
"Freedom is finding God’s truth"
From Andrey Zvyagintsev, the acclaimed director of The Return (Venice Film Festival Golden Lion winner and Golden Globe nominee). Koyla (Alexey Serebryakov) lives in a small fishing town near the stunning Barents Sea in Northern Russia. He owns an auto-repair shop that stands right next to the house where he lives with his young wife Lilya (Elena Liadova) and his son Roma (Sergey Pokhodaev) from a previous marriage. The town's corrupt mayor Vadim Shelevyat (Roman Madianov) is determined to “buy” him out in order to make room for a new building project, effectively taking away his business, house, and land. When his below market value offer doesn’t sway Koyla he resorts to bullying. This tactic only strengthens Koyla’s resolve as he fights harder not to lose everything he owns including the beauty that has surrounded him from the day he was born. Koyla brings in his long-time friend and attorney Dmitriy (Vladimir Vdovichenkov) from Moscow to help. With Dmitriy’s help they attempt to turn the tables on the mayor however things begin to unravel for Koyla and those closest to him, leaving the door open for unforeseen trouble.
One of the benefits of reviewing is the exposure to films that I probably wouldn’t have seen or heard of otherwise. Leviathan
is just such an example and tells a compelling and tragic dramatic story of corruption and intimidation set in contemporary Russia. I generally tend to find foreign films of this sort to be interesting as the differences in culture and setting tend to have a direct effect on the thematic tone. That couldn’t be truer here as Leviathan
tells a rather simple story of ordinary people standing up for their rights against a system where influence, motivated by religious or political agendas leaves those without power to suffer the consequences of the lower class.
At nearly two and a half hours in length Leviathan
does a slow burn fueled by wonderfully crafted moments driven by the adherence to the narrative’s layer peeling elements that continually speak to the human condition as seen from the perspective of Koyla, Roma, Lilya, and Dmitriy as they struggle to contend with the matter at hand. The film incorporates two concurrent storylines that eventually come together resulting in an ending that you typically wouldn’t find in American cinema. Based upon the setting and origin of the film I thought it played out perfectly and most decidedly within the tone of the story. I never once checked the time on Leviathan
and found myself completely absorbed in its dramatic flow and earthy characters. It is a visceral and scathingly relevant drama that resonates well after the credits have rolled.
This year Leviathan
took home the Golden Globe for Best Foreign film, won Best Screenplay at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and was an official selection at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. Additionally it was a nominee for the Academy Award and the Independent Spirit Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
The rating is for language and some sexuality/graphic nudity.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency effects:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
- Low frequency extension * (non-rated element): NA
- DSU Rating * (non-rated element): NA
Leviathan comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 22 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.3 Mbps.
- Black Level/Shadow Detail:
- Color Reproduction:
By design this film doesn’t boast vibrant colors are eye popping visuals but the encoding appears solid. Colors have a muted level of saturation and those used are rarely bright which give the perception of a limited palette. Overall they are naturally rendered and appear to fall within the visual range intended. Fleshtones have appreciable complexional distinction but the lighting used can sometimes leave them appearing flat and lacking in texture. Blacks are respectable with above average delineation. Shadow detail is quite good which enhances visual perception during the scenes shot in limited lighting. Resolution is adequate so that varying degrees of detail can be seen in close ups but the video isn’t razor sharp or dimensionally strong. It isn’t a bright film which when coupled along with the reserved chromatic scheme gives it a dull finish. This seems to coincide with the creative decisions of the filmmakers and results in stable imagery that lacks the eye popping definition that some may expect from a newer film.
The DTS-HD Master Audio sound quality is solid and offers a one dimensional, frontal oriented perspective that is highlighted by the recording’s exquisite level of detail. Dialogue is centrally focused and lucid with distinguishable intonation and requisite clarity. Surround activity is limited to subtle ambience that occasionally offered some spatial dimension that extended the depth of the sound field.
- Commentary with director Andrey Zvyagintsev & producer Alexander Rodnyansky
- (HD) The making of Leviathan – 29 minute documentary
- (HD) Toronto International Film Festival Q&A with director Andrey Zvyagintsev – 15 minutes
- (HD) Deleted scenes – 22 minutes
- (HD) Theatrical trailer
is a compelling and tragic dramatic story of corruption and intimidation set in contemporary Russia. I thoroughly enjoyed its visceral and scathingly relevant story that resonated well after the credits rolled. It comes to Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring excellent high definition video, crystal clear lossless sound and a fair supplemental offering that includes a look behind the scenes and insights from the filmmakers. Leviathan
is a rewarding film experience that comes highly recommended to fans of the genre.
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JVC DLA-RS4910 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8802 13.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (With Darbee video processing)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" and In-Ceiling series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package