Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan permeates of allegorical, and biblical vibes so much that it underscores an essential point about bureaucratic big wigs versus your average Joe kind of a guy. Big fish always eats the little fish. It’s about man fighting the power with copious amounts of vodka, a flared temper, who coincidentally likes to shoot his classy guns at prominent pictures of Russian leaders from yester-year. The story resides in a Northern seaside village of Russia where Koyla, a rough-neck, car mechanic is threatened by the big fish scum bag of a mayor, Vadim, who steals Koyla’s home and land, through the power of imminent domain, so he can tear it to shreds and replace it with a piece of cheap, crappy, development. Sound familiar? It’s the common backward fairy-tale, of the small town with a mom-and-pop shop getting their throats slashed in honor of cheaper prices by none other than the corporate hellhounds known as Wal-Mart. It might sound a tad bit dramatic BUT, the resonance of truth still rings the same, allegorically speaking.
Of course biblically, Zvyagintsev nails it on the head, in terms of the actual Leviathan, who is totally portrayed by the soulless, fat, mean, whale of a mayor, Vadim, consequently also being the monolithic, soul-sucking sea-serpent that cannot be stopped nor even die. He’s referenced quite extensively in book of Job specifically in verses 41:10-11 which states,
“No-one is fierce enough to rouse him. Who then is able to stand against me?
Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me.”
This film exudes mental deepness that’s incredibly fun to fathom just as dazzling as the compositions of Zvyagintsev’s shot selection of majestically blue waves crashing against a cliff, or a bonfire illuminating remains of a dilapidated church with fragments of religious paintings left behind. With so much beautiful imagery of cold, windy, vast, Russian landscapes interestingly, contrasts with the gritty, selfish, disloyal, gluttonizing, nature of human beings. Oh, that’s right we’re all flawed! We’re so flawed, that Zvyagintsev refrains from showing acts of violence, sex, and whatever blackmail Dimitri is dangling before Vadim. He turns the camera away from moments of corruption to highlight the notion we are to never know the truth, which epically makes the theme of this film intricately profound. Even with recycled immoral behaviors the narrative throws upon us, the betrayal, the hate, the violence, the greed, the anguish, we’re left with a reminder that this is kind of what makes the world go round in an eerie, jarring, image at the very end of the film. Koyla’s land what was once a simple family home for generations is now a frozen fortress of religion. All of these immoral human beings, Koyla, Liyla, and Dimitri are all essentially eliminated from their original quest in fighting the powers at be for their land, which begs an even bigger question: why? Was it for a greater good conjured by some unexplainable religious force with a sidekick known as the Leviathan? Or can we simply nod our heads and agree to never really having an explanation since as humans we lack the competence of having the absolute-all-knowing-everything power.