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Elena(Елена)

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

Russia

2011

1h 49m

Director Andrey Zvyagintsev

Starring Nadezhda Markina, Aleksey Rozin, Andrey Smirnov, Elena Lyadova

Genre Drama, Thriller

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Vladimir is reaching the end of his life and decides to leave his wealth to his only daughter, cutting out his wife and her son from his will.

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WHAT ARE PEOPLE SAYING?

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WHAT ARE CRITICS SAYING?

100

Los Angeles Times by

The script, by Oleg Negin and Zvyagintsev, uses spare dialogue to quietly devastating effect. Performances are superb across the board, framed in elegant widescreen compositions that simmer with violence.
100

Salon by Andrew O'Hehir

A breakthrough movie after its own fashion, a mysterious existential thriller that's brilliantly acted and masterfully directed, without a second of wasted screen time.
88

Slant Magazine by Chuck Bowen

Elena is a film deeply concerned with class resentment, but the filmmakers' attitude toward their titular character is disconcerting and even shocking.
85

NPR by Ella Taylor

Beneath the noirish topicality of Elena, which won a special jury prize at Cannes last year, lies a bone-deep existential unease and spiritual alienation, a preoccupation with sin that is at once quintessentially Russian and wholly archaic.
80

Time Out by Joshua Rothkopf

Rarely do movies-never mind foreign ones, of any nationality - explore an honest-to-God ethical quandary. Elena, in its concentrated austerity, often resembles a lost chapter of Krzysztof Kieslowski's Ten Commandments–themed Decalogue.
70

Village Voice by Nick Pinkerton

All of this builds into the film's last image, Elena's family finally welcomed into Vladimir's apartment, as the cautious, controlling, abstemious bourgeoisie are overtaken by the heedlessly fertile lower orders, the temporary inheritors of a terribly weary earth.
100

The New York Times by Stephen Holden

Post-Soviet Russia in Andrei Zvyagintsev's somber, gripping film Elena is a moral vacuum where money rules, the haves are contemptuous of the have-nots, and class resentment simmers. The movie, which shuttles between the center of Moscow and its outskirts, is grim enough to suggest that even if you were rich, you wouldn't want to live there.
88

Boston Globe by Ty Burr

Elena reveals a filmmaker in full command of his art and not much interested in catering to an audience. If you want this film, you have to meet it more than halfway.
88

New York Post by V.A. Musetto

Nadezhda Markina is splendid as Elena, who speaks little but still manages to make her thoughts and emotions crystal clear.

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