Elena (Zvyagintsev, 2011): Curzon Soho & Curzon Richmond, Various times - all week
It's rare for a new release to feature here but this one, which garnered plenty of praise at last year's London Film Festival, should be caught on its belated first run in the capital.
Time Out review:
'The corrupting power of money runs through the veins of this
superb Russian film like formaldehyde flowing through a corpse. The
story has an eerie, powerful simplicity: a well-meaning former nurse
from a modest background, Elena (Nadezhda Markina),
lives with her wealthy husband, Vladimir (Andrey Smirnov), in a luxury,
modern home. Her penniless son from her first marriage, Sergei (Aleksey
Rozin), wants money for his son’s schooling, but Vladimir is
uninterested: he controls their finances with a calm, iron will. His own
virtually estranged and difficult daughter, Katerina (Elena Lyadova),
from his earlier marriage is a drain on his emotions already. When
Vladimir falls ill, and questions of inheritance arise, Elena must act
to secure her future.
This is a bleak, mysterious tale, resolutely
local and contained in its surface interests. But you can’t help
wondering what director Andrey Zvyagintsev (this is his third film after
2003’s stunning ‘The Return’ and 2007’s less satisfying ‘The
Banishment’) might be saying about the state of Russia and,
specifically, the transition from the Soviet era. The parallels are
tempting: an unhappy but controlled situation turns to anarchy; plans
for the future are too late and hijacked for personal gain; and, by the
film’s final frame, the devil we once knew somehow inspires nostalgia.
This is smart, gripping cinema.' Dave Calhoun
Here is the trailer.