Leviathan: Film review - jarring, murky brilliance

(12A) Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Verena Paravel, 87 mins

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The Independent Culture

In 1929, John Grierson made his celebrated documentary Drifters, about herring fishing. He was considered to have come close to the lives of fishermen but his documentary seems detached and distant by comparison with Leviathan. The film-makers here don't just give us the fishermen's view.

Using lightweight, waterproof cameras and shooting from the most oblique and intimate angles, they give us a fish-eye perspective. The effect is often disturbing (many have called this a "horror" documentary.)

The lack of voiceover contextualization and intertitles adds to the eerie quality as fish are caught and skinned to the accompaniment of cacophonous scraping, screeching and clanking on the soundtrack.

Castaing-Taylor and Paravel are artists and anthropologists whose work is arguably better suited to galleries than cinemas.

Their intentions here are opaque (this isn't the typical eco-doc decrying the excesses of the fishing industry) but what can't be denied is the jarring, murky brilliance of their film-making.