For his third film, Andrey Zvyagintsev (The Return) pulls focus on the class divide in modern Russia. Elena, winner of the “Un Certain Regard” Special Jury Prize at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, is a meticulously crafted drama about a 60-ish woman who is torn between her ten-year marriage to Vladimir, a wealthy businessman she met while working as a nurse, and maternal obligations to her unemployed son who lives with his family in a Moscow housing project. When Vladimir balks at Elena’s request for money to pay for her grandson’s college tuition, the couple’s seemingly harmonious and somber relationship grows tense. A study in human nature, Zvyagintsev’s mesmerizing film affirms his spot among the art cinema masters working today.
Elena is a Zeitgeist Films release.
(Originally appeared on Flavorpill.com in May 2012.)