Throughout its 87 minutes, “Leviathan” paints a picture of a gritty universe that may have existed but could have never been imagined. Its visceral and up-close nature allows the film to portray a distinct beauty in an eerily ominous world.
The film is a documentary that takes us aboard a fishing vessel, the Leviathan, off the East Coast on the Atlantic Ocean. The ship, the ocean and even the marine life are kept in full view throughout the beautiful story. However, “Leviathan” is certainly not for everyone. There is no dialogue, and everything is presented objectively. Though some will find these aspects truly refreshing, they are not meant to come together to deliver a crowd pleaser.
While watching “Leviathan,” you may wonder about the documentary’s purpose, but once you sit back and absorb the film, the depths to which it proves immersive will surprise you. Viewers travel alongside the crew, and the film gives each aspect of the story its due. “Leviathan” makes no effort to tell a coherent story but still effortlessly draws us into the atmosphere of a unique world that is at peace with itself.
The cinematography and sound work carry the film. Covering most of its shots at night, we see the wretched circumstances in which these fishermen have to do their job. We see the constant mix of yellow, orange and white colors juxtaposed against the darkness that envelopes the Leviathan.
The camera does not hesitate — it moves hanging on a chain that draws a net out of the water and into a pile of dead fish facing imminent beheadings at the hands of the fishermen. The stellar, deep sound quality heightens the sense of exhilaration. The natural ambiance of the ship creaking, fish flopping and birds flapping their wings as the viewers are thrust in an out of the water with the camera all create a captivating score.
Do not try to understand “Leviathan.” The dedication provides a rewarding explanation for its ambling pacing and unfocused narrative. The film is made for the fishermen, the sailors and everything else that is a component of East Coast fishing. “Leviathan” is a documentary that reveals — like a window that constantly breaks and tries to let us touch what is behind the glass.
Sancheev Ravichandran is a contributing writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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