LiveWire Review/Leviathan

LiveWire Film Critic Georgia Buckley reviews Leviathan

Leviathan is a documentary film directed by Lucien Castiang-Taylor and Véréna Paravel. It is shot in the North Atlantic Ocean and along the New Bedford coast, USA and clearly demonstrates the brutality of the commercial fishing industry.

The film is massively experimental. First off, there is no conventional narrative and extremely little dialogue as you would undoubtedly expect to see in a documentary style film. The absence of the narrative and dialogue results in there being no facts and figures, no plot, no developing characters and not even a conclusion; which I personally think is essential to a successful film. I also felt the stylistic approach to the shots could be a bit too abstract; a lot of the film was shot using GoPro cameras and while this added to the documentary style, it did become a bit disorientating to watch for almost an hour.

So it may not be the most thrilling and exciting film ever but it has picked up a variety of  awards, including the top prize at the Edinburgh Film Festival, so the question is why? From someone else’s perspective I do understand why it could appeal to them, the film very much reaches out to the senses and to the imagination. The imagery and colour are of paramount importance in this documentary as this is what could be the connection for some viewers. The sound also provides a great representation of sea life and the surroundings of the documentary. It does also show various aspects of fishing; the brutality rather than the romance often associated with those fond of fishing. Various audiences may also be impressed with the extreme stylistic approach taken by the film, but it simply was not for me!

I didn’t feel the film engaged the audience substantially, there was no emotion or any type of relation I could make with the film but this may just be due to the type of person I am. I can see this film having a connection with fishermen themselves, those interested in sea life or those curious about the world around them and who don’t mind watching a film that doesn’t have conventional narrative.

Leviathan (12A) screens at Cornerhouse until Thu 19 Dec. Book your tickets and watch the trailer here.