Universal acclaim - based on 17 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 17
  2. Negative: 0 out of 17
  1. Reviewed by: Tim Robey
    Dec 12, 2013
    It’s really a radical experiment in non-fiction cinema – not seeking to enlighten or inform, but to disorientate us, practically to drown us, in a nightmare vision of the ocean’s power.
  2. Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson
    Feb 26, 2013
    Plunging viewers into the thick of chaos, Leviathan explodes the antiquated paradigm of the documentary or ethnographic film, whose mission has traditionally been to educate or elucidate, to create something that seizes us, never letting us forget just how disordered the world is. This may be the greatest lesson any nonfiction film can teach us.
  3. Reviewed by: Stephen Dalton
    Feb 22, 2013
    A highly original film of uncompromising, other-worldly beauty. Leviathan demands to be seen, even if it means you never eat seafood again.
  4. Feb 22, 2013
    Leviathan is a titanic achievement, a visceral overload whose impact registers immediately and with great force.
  5. Reviewed by: Gabe Toro
    Mar 1, 2013
    The experience of Leviathan is wholly singular, without context, enveloping and immersive. In some ways, it might very well be the most terrifying picture of the year.
  6. Reviewed by: Noel Murray
    Feb 27, 2013
    Anyone who enjoys overpowering cinematic sensation and watching people do a job will be predisposed to like Leviathan, Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel’s avant-garde documentary about life aboard a commercial fishing vessel. Leviathan is an immersive experience, plunging viewers into darkness and chaos, amid a rush of vivid color and rapid movement.
  7. Reviewed by: Peter Keough
    May 30, 2013
    It is part Rorschach test and part theme park ride as the filmmakers shoot from the strangest places and from such odd perspectives that much of the film consists of trying to figure out what the heck is going on.
  8. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    Nov 29, 2013
    Not an easy watch, and something in which you must make an investment of attention – but a fascinating piece of work.
  9. Reviewed by: Ian Freer
    Nov 25, 2013
    Part fishing documentary, part filmmaking experiment, Paravel and Castaing-Taylor is remarkable, disorientating and unique gem.
  10. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Feb 28, 2013
    Leviathan, a product of the Sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard, offers not information but immersion: 90 minutes of wind, water, grinding machinery and piscine agony.
  11. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Feb 26, 2013
    The first and only piece of advice needed on one’s way to the fishing pond is this: Bring your patience. Not surprisingly, the same could be said to a viewer of this slow-building but riveting experimental collage.
  12. Reviewed by: Boyd van Hoeij
    Feb 22, 2013
    Picture's title comes from the sea creature mentioned in the book of Job, which is briefly quoted at the film's opening. Cast list cheekily includes not only the names of the men aboard the vessel where the documentary was filmed, but also the Latin names of the species caught.
  13. Reviewed by: Farran Smith Nehme
    Feb 28, 2013
    The adventurous souls who stick with it, however, will find head-spinning images and a cumulative impact that does, in fact, amount to a story.
  14. Reviewed by: Neil Smith
    Nov 29, 2013
    The results – achieved through small cameras clipped to nets, masts and the crew – will hook some and induce seasickness in others.
  15. Reviewed by: Dave Calhoun
    Nov 26, 2013
    There are no interviews, characters nor narration, and after an hour it can feel like a chore. Yet the images are staggering.
  16. Reviewed by: Gary Goldstein
    May 10, 2013
    Though it's a decidedly arty piece, Leviathan, named after the biblical sea creature, also lacks much in the way of traditional beauty or splendor. However, the immersive shots of those swooping and circling sea gulls are quite something.
  17. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Mar 1, 2013
    The result is a self-conscious tone poem concocted from oblique camera angles, shots held longer than it takes a tadpole to reach maturity and nighttime images enhanced with a psychedelic glow. An alternate title for it might be "David Lynch, Gone Fishin'."
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 18 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 5
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 5
  3. Negative: 4 out of 5
  1. May 16, 2013
    This film was lazy, inartistic, intentionally annoying and massively indulgent. The shots were mostly shaky head cams on the fishermen often too dark to see anything. Or the camera was dangled pell-mell in the wake and the audience watched long stretches (like 5 minutes with no cutaways) of churning bubbles. Or the cam was dropped in a pen of sloshing fish for 15 minutes--no music, no voice over, often no discernible images. The quality of filmmaking is the equivalent of when you leave your video camera on by accident and it bounces along by your leg filming the ground? That boring, throw-away less-than-B-roll mess? Leviathan. There were tiny snatches of beauty; the first shots of the birds were stunning--until they went on and on and on and then were repeated later in the film in the same hammeringly repetitive manner. Augh! Not "avant garde" but truly awful posing as important.

    I love thoughtful docs and entertaining avant garde pieces... but this was the most punishing film to sit through, with so few moments of clarity, it made me angry. I pity the poor film students who will have to endure this exercise in bludgeoning boredom.
    Full Review »
  2. Oct 31, 2013
    Great movie making or oops, I forgot the "record" button was left on. Ummm, I am opting for the later. Some terrific visuals but extending them "forever" does not make them better, it only lessons the impact and tires the viewer. Editing, editing, editing. It sorely needs some! Full Review »
  3. Oct 23, 2013
    Don't understand all the praise Leviathan is getting and why the critics and majority of the audience are loving it. To me, it's the worst documentary film ever made, and I love watching documentaries. Full Review »