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 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.
A chilly noir about the beaten paths and icy ruts of Russian life in the capital, post-Communism. In a land of schemers, Elena suggests, the urban cloisters of Moscow's elite are as self-sealing as the lowly masses' stifling Soviet-era flats.
A slow-burning but engrossing drama that takes an intriguingly dark view of the sanctity of family in order to explore the ways in which bad seeds have a habit of flourishing in any environment.