Russia. Dir. Andrei Zvyagintsev. 2011, 109 mins. With Andrey Smirnov, Nadezhda Markina, Elena Lyadova. Music by Philip Glass. This contemporary family drama by the director of The Return has the intensity and inevitability of a great film noir, focused on a domestic crime that reveals simmering tensions concerning class, money, and the disparity between old and new Russia. Middle-aged Elena lives in a luxurious modern apartment with Vladimir, her older husband, who she once cared for as a nurse. Elena supports her irresponsible son while Vladimir cares financially for his rebellious daughter. A dazzlingly accomplished film from first frame to last, Elena boasts expressive widescreen photography and a spare Philip Glass score, in the service of perfectly modulated performances that allow for deep ambivalence toward the film’s characters. It was selected for the Un Certain Regard special jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
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