Winner of the 2010 Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Award
The central character of Zvyagintsev’s new film is a middle-aged
woman named Elena. She leads a calm, prosperous life in her cozy
apartment. In the evenings, she watches television serials, while her
husband Vladimir, who prefers to watch sporting events, sleeps in their
lavish bedroom next door. In the morning, they meet over breakfast and
trade perfunctory small talk. Elena’s only problem is her unemployed
alcoholic son. He lives with his family in a poor building complex on
the outskirts of the city – and he always needs money. Once a month,
Elena goes to visit her grandchildren and give her son some cash.
Elena’s husband, meanwhile, has no intention of forking over his
money. He barely has the patience for his wife, who so readily gives her
pension to her son. One day, Vladimir has a heart attack and the issue
of inheritance comes up. Elena develops a plan to save her son, which
changes this gentle, likeable woman beyond recognition.