Directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev
There is very little to be said about Elena. It doesn't have many strong suits, nor does it have many weaknesses -- apart from blandness. It's just a movie. One that isn't very good.
The performances are fine, as all the actors portray their roles believably and naturally. We're given no reason to feel these are actors and not just the people they are playing. And that is probably the nicest thing I can say about this movie. And when saying the acting is okay is the best thing you can say about a movie, you have to know you're in for something fantastic.
No, this movie isn't bad. In fact, a lot of people seem to think it's quite good, I just don't understand the appeal. A movie about uninteresting people doing very little with absolutely no payoff. Maybe this is being overly critical, but isn't that kind of the point? I shouldn't feel like I need to prove myself to the movie, the movie is what should be trying to impress me. This movie didn't impress me, and I don't feel the need to praise it for something it doesn't deserve. Besides, this is my review, and I'll write it how I want to.
One of the major problems with this movie is the fact that virtually nothing happens in it. The first half has all the build-up of a movie with a point, where the second half proves that the writers just didn't have enough creativity to include a point when they started. On paper, this movie sounds interesting. But on film, it's just not. Perhaps my expectations were slightly too high going into it, but I don't think that would be enough to make me care so little about this movie on its own. The simple fact that this isn't a good movie contributes most to that.
Thankfully, the cinematography is quite good. There's a certain quite grace to the camera work in this film that gives it a far grander, suave vibe than it probably deserved. It may not be fantastic, but it at least makes the film watchable instead of just unbearably slow-paced and overly subtle. And, being the Tarkovsky fan that I am, I can normally appreciate subtlety, but there is a certain point where a movie can become too subtle. And that's when it gets boring.
Overall, I'm making it sound worse than it is. It may be very slow, uneventful, painfully reserved, and not all that interesting, but... Well, actually, I guess I kinda nailed it. This isn't a very good movie.