Elena (LFF, Vue West End 19 October)



This film by Andrei Zvyaginytsev begins with a long soulful exterior shot of dawn outside the upscale Moscow flat where Vladimir lives with his downtrodden cook-housekeeper-sex object Elena.  They also happen to be married.  And not so young any more.  Nadezhda Markina soulfully intimates unhappiness as Elena.  She also travels to some rundown outskirts to hand over money to her useless son Sergei and his family.

Elena asks Vladimir to give Sergei some money so as to bribe the right people to keep grandson Sasha out of the army.  He says he will think about it, and goes off to the gym–a deeply un-Russian thing to do and especially unwise at his age.  He has a  attack.  Elena visits him in hospital and he recalls that was how they met–she was a nurse in a hospital where he was suffering from peritonitis.  Vladimir’s spoiled daughter Katya visits him reluctantly.  They tease each other evilly.

Returned home to Elena’s care, Vladimir decides he’s going to leave everything to Katya and starts drafting a will to that effect.  Oddly enough, neither he nor the will survive this decision.  Elena takes the good news in a plain brown envelope to Sergei’s family.  Grandson Sasha goes out with his mates to administer a good beating to some guys hanging around by bonfires, but it was all rather dark so I didn’t see who they were.

At the end we get a soulful exterior shot of dusk falling over what used to be Vladimir’s flat, while Elena Sergei and family make themselves at home inside and an infant grandchild luxuriates on an ocean of bed.

This is almost a party political broadcast/lecture on behalf of Edinaya Rossiya:  Mother Russia ought to take back her inalienable resources from the Westernised scum (Vladimir) and use them for breeding multitudinous future generations.  The only slight problems with this interpretation are Katya, who is also a typically Russian character and the score by Philip Glass, which really belongs in something more dynamic.

But if Katya is just a less attractive Nastassia Filippovna, debauched by an evil exploiter…


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