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Elena

Elena

Released 2 November 2012
Director Andrei Zvyagintsev
Starring



Nadezhda Markina, Andrey Smirnov, Elena Lyadova, Aleksey Rozin, Evgeniya Konushkina, Igor Ogurstov
Writer(s) Andrey Zvyagintsev, Oleg Negin
Producer(s) Aleksandr Rodnyankiy
Origin Russia
Running Time 109 minutes
Genre Drama
Rating TBC
45

From Russia with love.

What is it with screenwriters who believe in the art of nothing happening – or perhaps a more cute way of putting it, the intricate delicacies of everyday life? Do they genuinely think that it is art or is it a case of being so devoid of ideas to fill a two-hour motion picture that they instead resort to time-filling with never ending scenes of nothing or nobody; in this case, making a bed is popular. It may very well be art, but it is very rarely entertaining and very often lazy. Elena is a somewhat interesting story on the polarized classes in modern Moscow but its laborious pace is, like under the previous Soviet rule, cold and unwelcoming.

Elena is married to the wealthy Vladimir and they both live in his upscale apartment in an affluent, safe area of Moscow. In their sixties and from contrasting backgrounds, both have children from previous relationships. Vladimir openly detests his wife's deadbeat son who, jobless, cannot provide for his own family while Elena equally thinks little of Vladimir's daughter, having sponged off the wealthy for her entire life. When Elena's grandson needs tuition fees to get into university, she asks Vladimir for a loan – one in which he is unwilling to give, resulting in Elena concocting a desperate plan to provide for her own blood.

While the premise of the story is indeed intriguing, the reality is that it probably could have had more impact as a forty minute short. While the drawn out scenes – and believe me, there's a lot of them – are intended to inject tension into what is being labelled as a classic noir thriller, they are just so frequent and so elongated that its result is a considerably more boring, drawn-out affair than it could have been.

Now, to be fair there are good things about this movie. It is shot in a very personable manner which does help to associate yourself more with each of the characters and when there is interaction between the protagonists it is worthwhile. Nadezhda Markina, who portrays Elena, is very good at balancing the difficult task of satisfying the contrasting styles of tough love branded upon her from both her husband and son.

But good acting and the engaging differentiation between the lower and upper class landscapes of the city cannot alone mask a film that lacks any killer punch.

- David Caulfield