‘Elena’ (May 16)
Acclaimed filmmaker Andrey Zvyagintsev is one of the biggest names in Russian film. His 2003 feature, The Return, won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, and 2007’s The Banishment was nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes. His latest effort, Elena, tells the story of an elderly couple—Vladimir, a wealthy, cold older man, and Elena, a docile housewife (and his former nurse). Both have freeloading children from previous marriages. When Vladimir lands in the hospital from a heart attack, he realizes his time is limited and makes his distant daughter the sole heiress to his fortune. This does not sit well with Elena, who hatches a plan to gain control of Vladimir’s assets for herself and her family. The Hitchcockian noir, set in post-Soviet Russia, offers pitch-perfect performances, beautiful widescreen composition, and masterly direction. With its sparse dialogue and deft control, it recalls Cristian Mungiu’s 2007 Romanian masterpiece 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days.