An older couple, Elena and Vladimir: he is rich and mean with his money; she is more of a servant than a wife. They’ve been together for about ten years. Elena has a son from a previous marriage; Vladimir has a daughter. Her son is unemployed. His daughter is a bohemian. The unemployed son has his own family: a wife, a baby, and a teenager. The bohemian daughter has no children, no husband - nothing but her cheerless sense of cynicism and a morbid fear of reality. Elena’s son desperately needs money, something which Vladimir is nothing short of. However, he’s in no rush to help his wife’s family, heart attack puts Vladimir in hospital, where he realizes that his remaining time is limited. He tells Elena his plans for the inheritance: all his money will go to his daughter, while Elena will get a small life-long alimony to support her. The sweet, kind-hearted older woman who commands so much sympathy from the audience comes up with an ingenious plan to kill her husband, take his money, and give her son and grandchildren a chance in life

Director's Statement

I’m thrilled by the chance this story provides to explore the central idea of the early modern period: survival of the fittest, survival at any cost. With the growth of individual freedoms, society requires a corresponding growth of solidarity. Ever-increasing disengagement and individualism mean that people start to behave more and more like a bunch of tarantulas in a jar. Deep down inside, each human being is devastatingly alone. Solitude is the beginning, the end, and the thin red line that runs through the life of every human being. Humanitarian ideas in the modern world are being devalued as we speak, losing currency every day. Existing in this state, people turn inwards, gravitating towards ancient instincts and animal origins. This will be a rough drama - a pitiless, uncompromising look at human nature. We see two old people who have what appears to be an entirely normal relationship. You could even say that these people love each other, though it’s not a passionate youthful kind of love. We see their mutual care, gentleness and tact, which along with their dedication and fairness persuade us that they are bound by a lasting love. However, if we choose to call the illusion of a commercial relationship ‘love’, then in a moment of crisis, individuals will always act first and foremost in their own interests. This is a drama for today, told in a modern cinematographic language subjecting the viewer to eternal questions about life and death. A monster disguised as a saint, a repenting sinner facing her idols in a temple - how is that for an image of the Apocalypse? The Devil is powerless when he stands before the face of God. Man is powerless in the face of Death. And God is powerless in the face of Man’s freedom of choice. Humanity holds the key to the future of this trinity.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Andrey Zvyagintsev

Written by: Oleg Negin, Andrey Zvyagintsev

Produced by: Alexander Rodnyansky, Sergey Melkumov

Cinematography: Mikhail Krichman

Editing: Anna Mass

Production Design: Andrey Ponkeatov

Actor: Elena Lyadova, Nadezhda Markina, Andrey Smirnov

Nominations and Awards

  • European Actress 2011
  • Feature Film Selection 2011