Universal acclaim - based on 16 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 29 Ratings

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  • Starring: , , ,
  • Summary: Elena is a gripping, modern twist on the classic noir thriller. Sixty-ish spouses Vladimir and Elena uneasily share his palatial Moscow apartment—he’s a still-virile, wealthy businessman; she’s his dowdy former nurse who has clearly “married up.” Estranged from his own wild-child daughter, Vladimir openly despises his wife’s freeloading son and family. But when a sudden illness and an unexpected reunion threaten the dutiful housewife’s potential inheritance, she must hatch a desperate plan...(Zeitgeist Films) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 16
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 16
  3. Negative: 0 out of 16
  1. Reviewed by: Sheri Linden
    May 24, 2012
    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.
  2. Reviewed by: Stephen Holden
    May 17, 2012
    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.
  3. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Jun 5, 2012
    A wise and impeccably controlled drama that finds Russian helmer Andrei Zvyagintsev in outstanding form.
  4. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    May 22, 2012
    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.
  5. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Jul 12, 2012
    It's a sort of slow-boil Russian noir, if that genre exists, and if it doesn't, it does now. It's also a statement on class discrepancy in post-Soviet Russia. Arrogance, betrayal, crime and violence are all part of the story, directed and co-written by Andrei Zvyagintsev.
  6. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Jul 11, 2012
    Shoot this film in black and white and cast Barbara Stanwyck as Elena, and you'd have a 1940s classic.
  7. Reviewed by: Nick Pinkerton
    May 15, 2012
    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.

See all 16 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 4
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 4
  3. Negative: 1 out of 4
  1. Jun 1, 2012
    It's simply an excellent film so thick with thematic development that I need to see it again. If you think ahead during the movie, anticipating all of the cliched ways the story could go, you'd likely be wrong every time. There's no need to go cheap here. The filmmakers have done wonderful work. I'll spare you any plot details. Expand
  2. May 18, 2012
    Elena is a true achievement in character chemistry and acting. What I really like is that it doesn't contain any 'bad' or 'good' characters; the directing really makes you understand the motives, thoughts and personalities of the entire cast. Some of them initially seem as classic antagonists and some seem the opposite, but the story approaches them all from several angles and in the end I wasn't favoring or disfavoring any. Expand
  3. Jun 7, 2012
    Andriej Zwiagincew made a movie with spare dialogue, which is calm, minimalist and static, but he did it very knowingly. Elena has an outstanding form, refined and subtle, interesting characters and truthful screenplay. It contains the contrast between the social classes in Russia, relationships based on the exchange of some services, it asks important questions and let the spectator answer them by himself. If you are intelligent, Elena can give you a lesson which will rescue you some say! Expand
  4. May 27, 2012
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. This is a semi-depressing Russian budget movie.
    Don't waste the 2 hours, as you won't get it back.

    90% of the movie the people are silent, and nothing happens. That's because there is nothing to do in the plot. BTW, here's the plot: - a retired couple of an old dude-former banker and a lady-nurse, each have kids on a side from previous marriages. Neither of the kids is doing anything useful with their lives, but just want money from the banker. The banker reluctantly them some money, but is puzzled as to why the kids (who are pushing 30s) won't start working themselves. The nurse's kid wants much more money for his own kid, but the banker is reluctant.

    The nurse kills the banker by overdosing him with Viagra, and gives the money to her kid, who moves into the banker's apartment and slips in his bed.

    The morale that the director wanted to convey - being a mother is more important than being a wife.

    While the director is trying to portray the nurse as the caring mother, the truth is that she is the killer and is actually a bad character.

    I'm just puzzled as to why other people gave positive reviews here - just wasted my 2 hours. Thank's God I watched the movie for free, otherwise I'd request my money back.

    Time though - that I won't get back ..., unfortunately.


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