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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 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… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Sturdy performances, fine photography from Mikhail Krichman, good use of music by Philip Glass and a pleasingly terse script make for incisive, gripping drama."
‑ Geoff Andrew, Time Out
"A quiet, subtle mystery whose long, penetrating takes have drawn comparisons to Andrei Tarkovsky and whose mordantly ironic conclusion may remind you of Claude Chabrol."
‑ J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader
"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."
‑ Brian Gibson, Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)
"A perfectly formed drama that gradually takes hold and doesn't let go."
‑ Gail Tolley, The List
"It's a gripping, resonant tale, and Nadezhda Markina is outstanding as Elena, and far more sympathetic than perhaps she should be."
‑ Philip French, Observer [UK]
"In different hands, "Elena" might have been a noir thriller, but this serving of cinematic borscht is as cold as a Russian winter."
‑ Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Zvyaginstsev makes the most of the ghastly settings, which include a backyard that ominously features nuclear cones - and the kinds of compartmentalized living spaces that Hitchcock used for droll effect in "Rear Window.""
‑ John Hartl, Seattle Times
"The kind of family drama that gives family dramas a good name."
‑ Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy
"It's very gloomy. It's very Russian. It's as powerful as any picture released this season."
‑ Donald Clarke, Irish Times
"One of the very best Russian films of the past year."
‑ Derek Malcolm, This is London
""Elena" is a riveting psychological suspense film."
‑ Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune
"It's a sort of slow-boil Russian noir, if that genre exists, and if it doesn't, it does now."
‑ Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic
"Though very Russian, there is an extremely universal story at the heart of this film ..."
‑ Graham Young, Birmingham Post
"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."
‑ Alistair Harkness, Scotsman
"It may seem slow and lugubrious but it draws you into these complex, contradictory lives the way a spider lures a fly into a web."
‑ Allan Hunter, Daily Express
More reviews for Elena on Rotten Tomatoes