If your idea of a marine doc involves azure seas, stripy Disney fish and a soothing voiceover, ‘Leviathan’ will throw your expectations overboard. It’s an up-close, experimental portrait of a fishing trawler at work off the east coast of the US, and it comes across like raw footage from an embedded war correspondent who misread his brief and ended up on the high seas. It’s shot with a curious eye, giving equal weight to fish, fowl and man, and blessed with extraordinary sound design. The filmmakers invite us into the bloody belly of the beast as we see nets and chains groaning out of the water; fish being flung about and gutted; and birds hanging around for an easy meal.
There are no interviews, characters nor narration, and after an hour it can feel like a chore. Yet the images are staggering – not least when the camera moves in and out of the ocean and even at one point turns upside down so sea becomes air, and vice versa. In the world of ‘Finding Nemo’, this would be nothing less than a snuff movie.