Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev

Rating: 4.5/5

A Russian couple, Zhenya and Boris, are getting a divorce, and unfortunately there are no court battles for custody in Russia. The son hears his parents arguing over who should have to take care of him, and runs away from home. The film follows the parents’ search for their son. Loveless goes beyond broken family bonds and delves deeper into the hypocrisy of the modern, lonely and loveless human.

Romance and its quirks are well traversed by the film industry, but on-screen animosity and tension, especially in the family sphere, are rarely fine-tuned enough to avoid the victim-abuser split, which we know is not always the case. Loveless is a good showcase of equal resentment, discomfort and awkwardness between parties who still have to remain in each other’s lives. The dialogue is chilling, at times poetic and at others chaotic. Every line is so well placed; it flows effortlessly. The characters do not make it easy for us to understand them. They are not stereotypes but very average and identifiable people, with their passions and dreams never far from their bitterness and foolishness. Their musings can be intimate, vulnerable, and utterly conceited. The movie delivers a nuanced and mature portrayal of adults and relationships, admitting that childhood’s desperate and often futile need to be accepted is never truly grown out of.

Zvyagintsev views happiness cynically. Zhenya and Boris both view their life together as a mistake, driven by youthful foolishness. They want to be free of everything that links them with their past selves and embrace change. This idealism is shut down with beautiful visual juxtapositions that require no dialogue. The masterful directing allows for an insidious and creeping effect, hinting that the seeds of dissatisfaction in life lie deeper than in the external challenges we face.

This article first appeared in Issue 26, 2017.
Posted 12:52pm Sunday 8th October 2017 by Diana Tran.