Metascore
87

Universal acclaim - based on 16 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 16
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 16
  3. Negative: 0 out of 16
Watch On
  1. Reviewed by: Sheri Linden
    May 24, 2012
    100
    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: Andrew O'Hehir
    May 20, 2012
    100
    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.
  3. Reviewed by: Stephen Holden
    May 17, 2012
    100
    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.
  4. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    May 16, 2012
    91
    It's an austere Russian drama with shades of Hitchcock.
  5. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Jun 5, 2012
    90
    A wise and impeccably controlled drama that finds Russian helmer Andrei Zvyagintsev in outstanding form.
  6. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    May 31, 2012
    88
    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.
  7. Reviewed by: V.A. Musetto
    May 18, 2012
    88
    Nadezhda Markina is splendid as Elena, who speaks little but still manages to make her thoughts and emotions crystal clear.
  8. Reviewed by: Chuck Bowen
    May 15, 2012
    88
    Elena is a film deeply concerned with class resentment, but the filmmakers' attitude toward their titular character is disconcerting and even shocking.
  9. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    May 22, 2012
    85
    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.
  10. Reviewed by: Tom Dawson
    Oct 17, 2012
    80
    Backed by a sparing Philip Glass score, Elena eloquently shows how, in modern Russia, even family relationships are at the mercy of business.
  11. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Jul 12, 2012
    80
    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.
  12. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    May 15, 2012
    80
    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.
  13. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Jul 11, 2012
    75
    Shoot this film in black and white and cast Barbara Stanwyck as Elena, and you'd have a 1940s classic.
  14. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Jun 13, 2012
    75
    This is a quiet, powerful film about the lengths we'll go to for the sake of the people we love - and the depths we'll sink to for the sake of the ones we hate.
  15. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Jun 8, 2012
    75
    There's no music to tell you what to think. It's just three good actors and one director's merciless powers of observation.
  16. Reviewed by: Nick Pinkerton
    May 15, 2012
    70
    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.
User Score
7.2

Generally favorable reviews- based on 32 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 4
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 4
  3. Negative: 1 out of 4
  1. Jun 7, 2012
    8
    Andriej Zwiagincew made a movie with spare dialogue, which is calm, minimalist and static, but he did it very knowingly. Elena has anAndriej 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! Full Review »
  2. May 18, 2012
    8
    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;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. Full Review »
  3. Jun 1, 2012
    9
    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,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. Full Review »