The opening shot of a boy walking home in a snowy landscape amongst gnarled leafless trees takes us to the chilling core of Zvyagintsev’s narrative. Loveless explores a Russia where individual gratification is the new ideology. His parents hardly notice his arrival as they battle over their divorce, in which neither has made allowances for Alyosha’s wellbeing – there is no room for him in their new lives. Two days later his school notifies them of Alyosha’s disappearance, which neither had noticed. “[…] this is a film dominated by an atmosphere of sadness, emotional failure and doom. A fiercely smart drama, its despairing mood sticks with you long after it ends.” (Dave Calhoun, timeout.com) Nominated for 2018 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. We screened Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan in 2016.
Dir: Andrey Zvyagintsev 127mins Ru/Fr/Ge/Be 2017
Loveless is the fifth feature from Russian director Andrey Zvyaginstev, whose films continue to chronicle the socio-political conditions in present day Russia, exposing the frailties of his chosen characters.
At its centre, Loveless deals with an acrimonious divorce between the neglectful parents of 12 year old Alyosha, whose presence in their lives appears to have been unwanted from the moment of his conception. Consequently, little regard is given to Alyosha’s well-being so, when he goes missing in the surrounding frozen landscape, they do not at first notice his disappearance.
The life the family inhabits seems to reflect a society where personal gratification has become the norm but is contrasted with expectations of high personal conduct from the father’s ultra-religious employers. It suggests a society caught in a crisis of identity in the post-Soviet ‘brave new world’. We see this most acutely during the parents’ search, when they visit Alyosha’s grandmother, whose palpable bitterness is malevolent in its intensity. Indeed, the fact that there is a search party mainly of volunteers, suggests that his disappearance is not an isolated occurrence.
Elsewhere in the narrative, Zvyaginstev includes TV footage of internal political events, which heightens the political and personal tensions. The film is fabulously directed and photographed by Zvyaginstev and cinematographer Mikhail Krichman, resulting in it being both beautiful and heart-breaking in equal parts.
“Andrey Zvyagintsev’s haunting drama Loveless evokes the spirit of Michelangelo Antonioni in its tale of a young boy who goes missing while his parents are in the midst of a bitter separation, offering a pitiless indictment of a society pre-occupied with superficial distractions” Jonathan Romney, Sight&Sound.
Matvey Novikov – Alyosha
Maryana Spivak – Zhenya, Alyosha’s mother
Aleksey Rozin – Boris, Alyosha’s father
Marina Vasileva – Masha
Andris Keiss – Anton
Director – Andrey Zvyagintsev
Producer – Alexander Rodnyanski
Screenplay – Oleg Negin, Andrey Zyagintsev
Cinematography – Mikhail Krichman
Original Music – Evgueni & Sacha Galperine
- Even better than this director’s previous film you showed last season (Leviathan). Lots of visual memories. Amazing
- Dealt with complex themes, with an open ending, leaving viewers with their own interpretation of events.
- It may not have been as majestic as Leviathan but it packed a pretty powerful punch
- Totally absorbing and so, so sad. Brilliant casting and photography
- A sharp and clear-eyed of a society seeking purpose. The volunteers provided a marked contrast to the aimlessness of the principal characters
- A harrowing film. The cinematography was in a class of its own
- Very long but held my interest for almost all of it. The characters showed different features as the film went on
- A well directed and scripted film but the ending was unsatisfactory. The parents were an enigma in their relationship with each other and their new partners. I wonder whether the sort of search for Alyosha (portrayed here) would happen in Britain
- Held your attention waiting for something to happen
- Hard to watch. Wouldn’t such a well organised search party have had a dog or two?
- Strangely topical, considering the Suzy Lamplugh case
- Engrossing but some things not explained. What was the significance of the Tadjik workmen?
- Depressing – could’ve been cut by 30mins
- Could’ve done with a bit more editing!
- …. and I thought I was a bad parent!