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Elena [Blu-ray]

17 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Nadezhda Markina, Andrey Smirnov, Elena Lyadova, Alexey Rozin
  • Directors: Andrey Zvyagintsev
  • Format: Import, Blu-ray, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Russian
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region B/2 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: New Wave Films
  • DVD Release Date: 11 Feb. 2013
  • Run Time: 109 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00AFXZYEY
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 59,701 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Elena and Vladimir come from very different backgrounds. Vladimir is a wealthy, cold man, while Elena comes from a modest background, serving as his docile wife. The two of them have met late in life, each with a child from a previous marriage.

Vladimir has a distant relationship with his daughter. In contrast, Elena desperately tries to save her alcoholic son and his family from poverty with means she alone could not provide. When her husband Vladimir has a heart attack, he suddenly realizes his time on earth is limited. A tender but brief reunion with his daughter leads him to name her as the sole heir to his fortune. When Vladimir announces this change to Elena, her hope to help her son quickly vanishes. Submissive housewife Elena then comes up with a plan to provide her son and his family with a real change in life.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Antenna TOP 100 REVIEWER on 26 Nov. 2012
Format: DVD
After such a slow start that I began to wonder if the projection had jammed, this proves to be an absorbing character study of a second marriage between Vladimir, a wealthy sexist pensioner and Elena, his former nurse, now a useful housewife and occasional bedmate. In this unequal relationship, Elena seems at first resigned to her dull yet comfortable routine, but we begin to see the quiet subversiveness with which she uses her credit card to provide food for her waster of a son, his long-suffering wife and children who live crammed into a grim concrete block of flats. Although aware of her son's flaws, she does not see why his children should suffer, when Vladimir's own wayward daughter is indulged through an accident of birth. Perhaps we see here a residue of the Communist ethos surviving in a fractured modern Russia where the less able languish in poverty whilst the successful live on a par with the most prosperous parts of the capitalist west. Certainly, the camera lingers on shots of both smart inner city streets and the sordid subways leading to rubbish-strewn wasteland round giant cooling towers cheek-by-jowl with high rise slums.

The film builds to quite a tense and absorbing drama, but disappointed me by an inconclusive and perhaps intentionally amoral ending which could have been more poignant, disturbing, surprising, ironical according to the turn of events chosen.

I believe that this film started off in the west on an apocalpytic theme, but was modified away from this when transferred to Russia, perhaps retaining a nihilist aspect. A little too long with a few superfluous scenes - such as the shot of a nurse stripping a bed or perhaps I missed the point - this is a visually striking, psychologically quite subtle film with an ending which I suspect will divide opinion.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Keith M TOP 500 REVIEWER on 9 Jan. 2014
Format: DVD
Probably not quite the review title to enthuse potential viewers I'll admit, but it is rather difficult to see Andrey Zvyagintsev's 2011 cynical (but totally realistic), urban (Moscow-set) drama in any other way. Rather-like a Leigh/Loach/Dardennes film, but without the humour (that's another swathe turned off!), Elena is an intimate, slow portrait of the dilemma faced by the middle-aged grandmother of the title as her sense of duty to her 'waster' son (and his family) has a devastating impact on her own (recent) marriage to wealthy (and ailing) businessman, Vladimir.

Although not a fan of too much 'genre-ising' in cinema, Zvyagintsev's film would certainly fit firmly into any definition of 'slow cinema', with cinematographer Mikhail Krichman's camera adopting a minimalist approach (long static shots) as it slowly traverses both the upmarket apartment occupied by Elena and Vladimir and the graffiti-emblazoned high-rise inhabited by Elena's unemployed son Sergei, his wife Tatyana and their two sons (an infant and teenager Sasha). Elena can certainly be interpreted as quite a scathing condemnation of the state of 'Moscow society' (although many of its 'failings' no doubt apply equally to other 'western' societies), whereby social alienation and lack of a sense of personal responsibility has taken hold - whether it be via the archaic attitudes of elderly Vladimir and his estranged, nihilistic, 'little rich girl' daughter Katarina (an excellent Elena Lyadova) or via the Jeremy Kyle (Russian-equivalent)-watching, computer game-playing wastrels of Sergei and family. In these respects, Zvyagintsev's tale is totally uncompromising, and contains some moments of memorably caustic dialogue (invariably featuring Katarina).
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Rowena Hoseason HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 31 Jan. 2013
Format: DVD
This award-winning foreign language film is touted as a 'thriller' but really it's much more of a slow-burn psycho-drama, peeling back layers of modern, urban Russian life. It's thoughtful and thought-provoking, with subtle strands of tension throughout.
At its core lies the relationship between Vladimir, a wealthy older man and Elena, his nurse-turned-wife. He's trim, efficient and sparse - much like his sleek, expensive apartment. She's dowdy, chunky and plain. He sleeps in king-size luxury - she sleeps on the sofa bed in the spare room. They've both had earlier relationships and have problematic encounters with grown-up children, and this marriage seems very much to be one of functional convenience. She's a housekeeper with added duties in the bedroom, definitely the dependent partner in the relationship who cooks, cleans, carries and fetches, and almost needs to account for every rouble she spends on groceries.
Yet this is not a loveless marriage. When Vladimir falls ill, Elena overcomes her unfamiliarity with the church to light candles and pray for him. She implores his awkward daughter not to agitate him, not to make matter worse. Her domestic duties are wearily but efficiently accomplished, but she seems genuinely flattered when Vladimir takes her to bed for a conjugal interlude...
As the film unfolds, in its meandering but inevitable manner, Elena must make a choice between her husband's wishes and the future of her family - including her feckless grandson who will be drafted if she can't come up with a substantial sum of cash, quick.
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