From the director of LEVIATHAN! Winner of Cannes’ Un Certain Regard Special Jury Prize, ELENA is a gripping, modern twist on the classic noir thriller. Sixty-ish spouses Vladimir and Elena uneasily share his palatial Moscow apartment—he’s a still-virile, wealthy businessman; she’s his dowdy former nurse who has clearly “married up.” Estranged from his own wild-child daughter, Vladimir openly despises his wife’s freeloading son and family. But when a sudden illness and an unexpected reunion threaten the dutiful housewife’s potential inheritance, she must hatch a desperate plan…. Masterfully crafted by award-winning Russian filmmaker Andrey Zvyagintsev (Golden Globe nominee The Return) and featuring evocative, Hitchcockian music by Philip Glass, ELENA is a subtly stylish exploration of crime, punishment and human nature.
CRITICS’ PICK. Brilliant and gripping.
Shoot this film in black and white and cast Barbara Stanwyck as Elena, and you'd have a 1940s classic!
Spellbinding and impeccably crafted.... Performances are superb across the board, framed in elegant widescreen compositions that simmer with violence.
Nicely noirish, cynically satisfying.
A thing of severe and chilly beauty, directed by the prodigiously talented Andrei Zvyagintsev. A remarkable work!
Along with Zvyagintsev's assured direction, the performances are what make "Elena" so remarkable.
PICK OF THE WEEK! Mesmerizing! A mysterious existential thriller that’s brilliantly acted and masterfully directed, without a second of wasted screen time.
Grounded in classic elements of film noir but lensed with a stillness that becomes paradoxically nerve-rattling...a thriller about the shifting moral calculus in a world where money changes everything.
Stunning...An outstanding Russian drama of fractured families, money and quiet desperation.
A wise and impeccably controlled drama that finds Russian helmer Andrei Zvyagintsev in outstanding form.... Zvyagintsev spins a taut, engrossing yarn about a coveted inheritance, cruel class differences and quietly monstrous misdeeds.
An intensely compelling slice of noir about moral rot and class warfare in post-Soviet Russia....A bone-deep existential unease and spiritual alienation, a preoccupation with sin that is at once quintessentially Russian and wholly archaic..... [Zvyagintsev’s] vision of eternal human frailty is inescapably tragic and religious — and brutally unforgiving.
Devastating! I can't recommend it highly enough...a distressingly universal tale of haves and have-nots, not to mention an apt reminder that morality and ethics can be slippery propositions when other interests drive us.
Pulses with tremendous tension! An austere Russian drama with shades of Hitchcock.
As the film unfolds, we get so many new angles of how to look at these characters and the story overall. There is so much here to endlessly enjoy.
Impeccably composed, stark visuals lending a near-apocalyptic mood that permeates every frame. Andrey Zvyagintsev taps into the rich tradition of film noir, as well as the influence and cultural echoes of such diverse Russian forebears as Dostoevsky, Chekhov and Tarkovsky.
Extraordinary... Grounded by Markina’s magnificent performance...brilliantly shot by Zvyagintsev regular Krichman, and its chill heightened by hyper, excited bursts from Glass’s score