After watching Andrei Zvyagintsev first film The Return in 2008, he immediately became one of my favourite directors. His latest film (and the third in his career so far) Elena was recently released on DVD in the UK and tells the story of Elena and Vladimir, a married couple who both have children from a previous relationship and who are the total opposites in relation to class – Vladimir is wealthy and distant while Elena is an unassertive wife and mother who constantly battles to get her lazy, alcoholic son and his family out of poverty to create a better future for her grandchildren.
When Vladimir unexpectedly has a heart attack he begins to build a relationship with his elusive daughter. When he realises the insignificant role he has played in his daughter’s life, his guilt leads him to decide that she will inherent all of his wealth instead of his wife. When he tells Elena of this change, she goes to drastic measures to try and stop this in order to give her son and his family the life that will get them out of poverty.
Absolutely love this film and admire Zvyagintsev’s work because of its realism, emotional rawness, intriguing storylines, breathtaking photography and the genuine talent of the actors. I always get a sense with Zvyagintsev’s films, of remoteness juxtaposed with immense complexities that revolve around the family and this fascinates me so much. If you have an interest in Russian film or world cinema, I highly recommend it!