Elena (played by Nadezhda Markina) lives in a well-heeled suburb of a Russian city with her husband Vladimir (by Andrey Smirnov). She has been with Vladimir for 10 years and they have settled into a disciplined domestic routine. Elena cares for the home and is wife, housekeeper and nurse for Vladimir, who is a bit older than Elena. They share some interests, but their lives are largely independent – they sleep in separate rooms, watch separate television channels and have separate interactions with their respective children – Elena’s son is Sergei (by Alexei Rozin) and Vladimir’s daughter is Katerina (by Elena Lyadova). There are marked differences between them – Vladimir has always lived in relative luxury, but Elena and her family have always struggled to make ends meet. Although Elena and Vladimir live very comfortably, Vladimir doesn’t accept responsibility to help Elena support her son Sergei, who is unemployed and has never been able to provide for his own family. He lacks motivation and is constantly asking Elena for money so she does what she can to save from her own allowance to provide for him and his family. The contrast between the two family lifestyles couldn’t be more stark. Vladimir and Elena do not treat each other’s children as their own. One day, Vladimir is taken seriously ill and decides he needs to prepare his will, but Elena finds that his wishes are not conducive to making sure her family has an opportunity for a happy life, so she takes steps to change that …..
Some movies you sit through because many have said it is excellent, a masterpiece and well made – and you want to see for yourself. I saw this movie on that basis. It is not until you really consider the way the movie envelops you that you realise it is actually very well made. However, the excellence in directorship and scene construction is not matched by drama, emotion or suspense. I kept watching, feeling the anticipation build and feeling sure something dramatic was bound to happen … but it never came. The story travels slowly, which does build suspense, but then a scene will end with no climax and the story will move on to another matter. Although in many scenes the utter silence does speak volumes, there is not enough in the actual story for me really. The relationships are well presented, performances are done well … but it’s just that not enough happens. Even the storyline is a good one, but it’s lost in the telling for me. Others will say it’s a masterpiece, but unfortunately I would not agree.
Made in 2011. Directed by Andrei Zvyagintsev