Sunday, May 27, 2012
The Russian import "Elena" has been described as a modern-day film noir. Huh? It's a daylight-drenched, ponderously overlong waste of an interesting setting, with enough of a storyline for a fifteen-minute short subject. Elena used to be Vladimir's caretaker but has been his wife for a few years. Vlad's cheap with her slacker son Sergei and won't pay for Sergei's son ...Sasha's college ("The army is the best education"), but dotes on his bitchy and equally indolent daughter. One day he makes the mistake of telling Elena he'll be leaving almost everything to Katya (though she'll still get a lifetime annuity), to which Elena responds with quietly homicidal rage.
There are no surprises in the plot (there's almost no plot in the plot), just extended, go-nowhere tracking shots that fail to give us a sense of life in modern Russia. There's a scene in which we watch Elena watch a TV show in which audience members taste-test and opine on half a dozen sausages. With some movies, if you turn away for a few seconds, you'll miss something. Of "Elena" it can truthfully be said that if you turn away for ten minutes, you'll miss something.