Dir: Andrei Zvyagintsev | 127min |Drama | Russia
Andrei Zvyagintsev’s long-awaited follow-up to Leviathan sees a divorcing couple forced to cooperate in the search for their missing son. LOVELESS is scripted by Oleg Negin who also wrote The Banishment, Leviathan and Elena and once again there is common ground in the alienation and emotional emptiness of the characters. With Loveless Zvyagintsev would have us believe that the Grim Reaper has finally visited Russia and stolen its human soul and spirit. What remains is a collection of spiteful, self-seeking, sociopathic types whose only pleasure is shopping, social media and mindless sex: the result of a culture that forces them into loveless marriages to procreate and conform.
In Moscow a young couple have already been through a bitter divorce but are still sharing a home. Their young son Alexsei sobs silently in his bedroom in one of the most moving scenes in this otherwise sensually barren affair, while his parents, who never wanted him, bicker about how best to sell the family flat. Boris (Alexei Rozin) is a tubby, pasty-faced office worker whose new girlfriend, an aquisitive blond, is needy and close to her conniving mother. His soon-to-be-ex-wife Zhenya (Maryana Spivak) is hostile towards her son and husband. A beautician, she is now dating a rich but hard-edged businessman twice her age with a pristine appartment in an upmarket part of town. There is nothing to recommend any of them: physically and spiritually they represent the worse form of life. There is a feeling that this reptilian sub-species is alive and kicking – not just in Moscow – but in much of the civilised world.
When Alexsei disappears during his parents’ separate date nights, the film becomes a police procedural of utter desperation. Moscow looks like a frozen forest filled with creatures from another planet: these s0-called parents are merely psychopaths and narcissists going through their vacuous routine, their only despair is for themselves rather than the loss of their son. This is a bitterly depressing film but visually impressive and inventively framed. If you’re looking for two hours of penetrating desperation and frightening emptiness LOVELESS will do the trick – and it’s coming to a cinema near you. Be warned. MT
LOVELESS IS SCREENING NATIONWIDE FROM 9 FEBRUARY 2018