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Elena (2012)

Nadezhda Markina , Andrey Smirnov , Andrey Zvyagintsev  |  Unrated |  DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Nadezhda Markina, Andrey Smirnov, Elena Lyadova
  • Directors: Andrey Zvyagintsev
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Russian
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Zeitgeist Films
  • DVD Release Date: October 30, 2012
  • Run Time: 109 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B008MZTKFG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #172,293 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Winner of Cannes Un Certain Regard Special Jury Prize, Elena is a gripping, modern twist on the classic noir thriller. Sixty-ish spouses Vladimir and Elena (award winner Nadezhda Markina) 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... Masterfully crafted by award-winning Russian filmmaker Andrei Zvyagintsev (Golden Globe nominee The Return) and featuring evocative, Hitchcockian music by Philip Glass, Elena is a subtly stylish exploration of crime, punishment and human nature.

DVD Special Features include:

Gorgeous HD master, enhanced for widescreen viewing

Optional English subtitles

30-minute interview with director Andrey Zvyagintsev

Making-of video on the poster screen-printing

U.S. theatrical trailer

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
"Elena" is a spare, meditative drama by Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev that won some awards on the international festival circuit. Elena (Nadezhda Markina) is a housewife of modest origins, married to wealthy Vladimir (Andrey Smirnov). They met when Elena worked as a nurse in a hospital where Vladimir was recuperating. Now they live in a lovely, spacious Moscow apartment, which Elena keeps just as her husband likes. They get along and show genuine affection for each other but sometimes clash when the discussion turns to their grown children. Elena's son Sergey (Alexey Rozin) is chronically unemployed and always asking for money. Vladimir's daughter Katya (Elena Lyadova) is estranged from her father and takes a nihilistic view of life. Things might change when Vladimir has a heart attack and decides to write a will.

I have a weakness for films that tell their stories cinematically, with spare dialogue, but I wondered if this might be an exercise in self-indulgence when I saw that the first shot, of trees in front of Vladimir's apartment, lasts a minute and 20 seconds. This is followed by successive shots of the apartment's interior. Dialogue does not commence for 8 minutes. But I came to welcome these silent contemplations of the environment. There are a lot of long shots of people doing nothing. Vladimir in his car. Elena fixing her hair. The photography is beautiful. The silence is, I believe, intended as realism. The director admits that the screenplay is barely long enough for a film half this length. But "Elena" tells its story by observing routines. We see Elena's daily routine. We are lulled into it. Then we see a break in the routine. The routine told a story; the break will tell another.

Vladimir is a self-made man, now apparently retired.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A bitter pill to swallow... January 21, 2013
Format:DVD
Maybe `Elena' was just poorly marketed. I wouldn't know because I didn't personally see any advertisements and just happened to stumble onto this when I saw it on Netflix. Apparently some feel this was supposed to be some sort of a noir or a thriller. It's not. `Elena' is more than that. `Elena' is a deeply moving and complex character study that unravels around the relationship between a woman, her husband, his daughter and her son. With long brushstrokes for takes, director Andrey Zvyagintsev delivers what I imagine a Hitchcock film would look like under the direction of Michael Haneke. It is severe, but in a very subtle and observant way, allowing us to get inside Elena's head without feeling beaten over the head by her conundrum of sorts, and the finale is beautifully enriched by an almost stale aftertaste, as if the underscore the decisions of the film's centerpiece. With a brilliant score (truly haunting) and a brilliant leading lady (what Nadezhda Markina does here is remarkable), `Elena' delivers to us a rather remarkable look at the lengths one will go to in order to enrich the lives of those they love, regardless of the cost.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Domestic drama from Russia September 15, 2012
Format:DVD
"Elena" (2011 release from Russia; 109 min.) brings the story of Elena (played by Nadezhda Markina) and Vladimir, both in their sixties it appears. Married life is not quite what it seems, as Elenea appears to be equally the care-taker, maid, and do-it-all for Vladimir. Only later in the film do we learn that they met some 10 years ago when Vladimir was in the hospital and Elena was his nurse. They eventually married, and it brought economic stability for Elena as Vladimir is well off finacially. We also get to know Elena's son, Sergei, and his family, including his 17 yr old son Sasha, a do-no-good slacker of the first degree who desparately wants to go to university so as to avoid having to serve in the army but can't afford it. Sergei is not much better, essentially being supported by Elena. Last major character in the movie is Vladimir's daughter Katerina, the supposedly "wild and crazy" one (but is she really?), who rarely sees her old man anymore.

Even though the movie starts off very gently (the opening 5 min. or so, all we see is Elena awakening, making coffe and breakfast, and getting ready for the day), it doesn't take long for the tension to start building in the movie. It shouldn't come as a surprise that it's all about the benjamins, of course. Vladimir has lots of it; Sergei and his family not so much and getting more desperate by the day. I won't say more about the plot, you'll just have to see how it all plays out for yourself, but suffice it to say that you are in for quite a few surprises in the last half hour.

The movie plays out at glacial speed, and I mean that as a compliment. The character study of Elena is done beautifully, you can see Elena's despair and conflcit (between her husband and her son) in her face.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Look at Contemporary `mother'-Russia... November 10, 2013
By B.E.F.
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
~~~

A Good Look at Contemporary `mother'-Russia...

¡ SPOILER ALERT !

Un Certain Regard winner at Cannes (2011), Elena--(directed by one of Russia's most talented young directors, Andrey Zvyagintsev)--is a visually appealing and subtly intellectually compelling look at contemporary Russian society in this age of post-hypercapitalistic pluto-oligarchic global-corporatism.

The really interesting thing is that though Russian society has experienced so much excruciating turmoil in the last 100 years, basic elements of millennial duration have remained unchanged: those of the basic family unit and a deep commitment to the Eastern Orthodox church.

And so in this high-and-low picture we get Dostoyevskian dialogue and traditional images conveyed in a smoothly sibilant Muskovite patois.

Certainly Russia is no worse-off than America is now.

Small sound track contributed by Philip Glass (Symphony No. 3).

~~~
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A great movie that may be too slow for some viewers
This film, set in Russia, is about a middle-aged woman, a former nurse, who married a businessman who made money and then retired. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Bob C
5.0 out of 5 stars Harsh realities make a mockery of idealized "goodness."
Elena, besides being a low-burn thriller, is an indictment of contemporary Russia where money is the only thing one can count on, and which corrupts/effects the value system... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Eric M. Eiserloh
4.0 out of 5 stars Would Lenin like it?
Vladimir Lenin would have loved it. Score one for the revolutionaries, redistribute the wealth, and let the poor folk have a turn at being fat capitalist slobs with flatscreen TVs... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Richard C. Donovan
2.0 out of 5 stars probably good but pedantic
Call me a barbarian if you must but when a director holds the camera for too long I think it is an indulgence. The first shot of the house from the garden went on forever. Read more
Published 17 months ago by .fgd
4.0 out of 5 stars Elena
Interesting story slow paced a realistic portrait of a family and their interactions.and an understanding end of the story although disappointing
Published 19 months ago by Grace N, Aikawa
2.0 out of 5 stars A passive thriller
Have you ever heard of a passive thriller? Me neither. Billed as a classic noir thriller, Elena has been called a "masterfully crafted, subtle, stylish ... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Kati.Pea
3.0 out of 5 stars Elena
This Russian film is similar to other Eastern European or Scandinavian movies that I have recently watched like "My Joy", "Aurora" and "Delta". Read more
Published on August 18, 2012 by Daniel Gamboa
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