Entertainment, Movie, Reviews

Elena, A Hard Hearted Drama

There’s a strange plot in the film Elena a story that ends a relationship in a wicked way.  The movie has some fine acting and good direction.  The Russian movie won a special jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival.  If you like movies that fit the genre film noir, then Elena is a good example.

The movie centers on 60-year-old Elena (Neodesha Markina) a person not of great wealth who late in life marries an older rich businessman Vladimir (Andrey Smirnov) who uses her nursing skill to cope with elder health problems.  Not the most loving person, Vladimir has treated Elena like a maid for the past ten years and he’s been estranged from his unloving manipulative daughter.  Elena travels far and often to her visit and provide money and food for her jobless son’s family. Vladimir comes down with a sudden illness and Elena contacts his daughter to let her know. When Elena gets the news that his heart is failing she must hatch a wicked plan to get his inheritance.

Elena (Neodesha Markina) and Vladimir (Andrey Smirnov)
A gem of a movie Andrey Zvyagintsev who makes his film cold and dark directs the hardhearted drama.  Showing the bleak Russian surroundings vacant of any joy one would think he is making a statement about his country.  He’s merciless about his characters showing their disdain for one another while caught up in an ever-changing society that has made them unfeeling.

The film movies along at a fast clip introducing the characters and showing a nice portion of the Russian town and suburban area. Seeing the way the upper and lower classes live in Russia recalls a spark of our own society during the most recent hard times.  Providing the most intrinsic value, this cinematography alone makes the film worth the watch.

But the film goes to Neodesha Markina as the desperate Elana who when all the chips are down has to fend for herself and take control of her destiny.  Showing her character smart, crafty and intriguing she makes the story realistically delicious.  Investing a decade being subservient to the controlling Vladimir, her Elana must make some very cold and calculating decisions and her fine performance tells it all.

Elena has not been rated by the MPAA but does contain adult situations and language.  The film is presented in the Russian language with English subtitles.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A heavy-handed story that intrigues.  [rating=3]

Additional Film Information:

  • Cast: Neodesha Markina, Andrey Smirnov and Yelena Lyadova
  • Directed by: Andrey Zvyagintsev
  • MPAA Rating: Unrated
  • Genre: Drama, Foreign
  • Running Time: 1 hr 49 min
  • Opening Date: June 8, 2012
  • Distributed by: Zeitgeist Films


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Film Editor John Delia has been on all sides of the movie business from publications to film making. He has worked as a film critic with ACED Magazine for more than 12 years and earned a Bachelors degree in communications from the University of Florida. John is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association. Follow John on Twitter @staragent1 or send John a message at jdelia@acedmagazine.com