Mar­riage made in hell

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Movies - LEIGH PAATSCH

ELENA

Direc­tor: An­drei Zvyag­int­sev ( The Re­turn )

Stars: Nadezhda Mark­ina, An­drei Smirnov, Ye­lena Lyadova, Alexey Rozin

Putin it on the record

THIS is life in Vladimir Putin’s Rus­sia. This isn’t much of a life at all. This is Elena.

Through a grim, gri­mace- in­duc­ing por­trait of a so­ci­ety where the haves and have- nots have had it up to here, Elena ex­erts a fu­ne­real grip on the viewer that just won’t let go.

Yes, the only way is down for all in­volved here, whether they be a fig­ure in the story, or a stunned on­looker in the au­di­ence.

Direc­tor An­drei Zvyag­int­sev ( best known for his 2003 mas­ter­piece The Re­turn ) lim­its the pace of his film to a clin­i­cal prowl.

This syncs the mood of the viewer to that of the ti­tle char­ac­ter, a tac­i­turn Moscow woman in her early six­ties trapped in a mar­riage of in­con­ve­nience.

A for­mer nurse, Elena ( Nadezhda Mark­ina, pic­tured with An­drei Smirnov as Vladimir) mar­ried a rich pa­tient to pro­vide for the fu­ture of her chil­dren. How­ever, af­ter her iras­ci­ble spouse sur­vives a heart at­tack and re­veals the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of his will, Elena must make a move and make it fast.

The style of film-mak­ing de­ployed here is best de­scribed as ‘‘ Hitch­cock with one heck of a hang­over’’.

De­cep­tion and in­trigue in­cre­men­tally rise with each scene, as does the dis­turb­ing inkling that there is some­thing wrong with mod­ern Rus­sia that no amount of money or power can pos­si­bly right.

It’s a de­serv­ing win­ner of a Spe­cial Jury Prize in Cannes 2011, with a mu­sic score by the great Philip Glass ( Koy­aanisqatsi).

Now show­ing State Cin­ema

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