Film Review : Leviathan (2013)

IMDB Score – 6.4
Rotten Tomato Score – 78%

Directed by – Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel

A documentary shot in the North Atlantic and focused on the commercial fishing industry.

Part of the reason I started this website was to let some of you people into my world of weird films I come across. As of let, I really haven’t been watching many bizarre or less seen films. It’s Oscar season and I’ve been busy getting out to the theater as much as possible to get in my viewings of some of this years award chasing films. My Netflix dvd queue is now at the point where I’m starting to get some of the films that have been backlogged that are a bit more obscure or challenging. This is one of them.

As you can see by the vague synopsis brought to us by IMDB, Leviathan is a documentary about the fishing industry. One view of the trailer tells you that we’re not going to be watching a run of the mill doc narrated by Mike Rowe. Leviathan is a visceral experience. Comprised of no dialogue besides a few strewn sentences muttered by the crew at times that are barely audible, the film shows us what happens on a fishing vessel. A real one. No producers. No rewrites. No jump cuts. Twelve cameras were strung across nets, fastened onto bodies, and tossed in and out of water. What we see is a completely raw look at life on the ocean, for man and for fish. I’ll tell you this. It is not pleasant. It is gruesome and ugly but necessary for your fish tacos at Chipotle. They serve those there right? I think they do.

There’s a “scene” that I don’t mind describing as there is no real plot to spoil which involves one of the few steady shots in the film. A crewman, tired and exhausted, is in the kitchen watching TV. He is defeated. Sagging eyes and heavy breathing accompanies the sound of “The Deadliest Catch”. Yes, he is watching a show about fishing after he just spent a whole day fishing. The show goes to commercial and we here an ad about an energy drink. “You ever get the 2:30 tired feeling? You know where you just want to go to sleep?” It’s funny. The people on the commercial had a tough tennis workout and want a nap. This guy has just spent 18 hours hauling rigging and cutting the fish off heads and this is the inane commercials he’s watching. The dude falls asleep. Deep shit here guys.

That last line seemed a bit negative. I enjoyed the film. It is a one of kind look at whats it’s like battling the ocean day in and day out and what it takes for your fish sticks to become lunch. It’s not a political statement but just a raw visual experience. I don’t know if I’ll watch it again, but it was a one of a kind viewing.


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