Meet the new Russia, same as the old Russia
- Loveless review by jb
Zhenya and Boris hate each other. Married for 12 years, they both now have new partners, and are bitterly divorcing. Caught in the middle is their young son. Lonely and unhappy, the boy seems to be little more than an inconvenience for both parents.
One day the boy disappears. The police, understaffed and overworked (is the opposite ever the case?) abnegate responsibility to a highly organized volunteer search force. All parties now have to work together. In a different film the parents might find some sort of accord, but director Zvyagintsev is not one for easy comforts; Zhenya and Boris's mutual loathing only deepens.
Beginning with shots of a frozen, tree-bordered river, Loveless takes a cold, hard look at contemporary Russia and its new middle class. Beauty salon manager Zhenya is addicted to her mobile. Boris works in sales, his office modern and open plan. They have things; Brazilian waxes, decent cars - 'freedom' - but there seems to be something deeply poisonous about Russia that nothing can detoxify. Yes, both parents have found love again but neither seem able to escape the crushing effect their country still exerts; towards the end we see Zhenya, clad in a Russian national tracksuit, running on a treadmill, going nowhere. Boris has to keep up the appearance of being happily married in order to please his religious boss. Russia doesn't change, the film suggests; it can ruin you at any time.
Loveless does perhaps brush a little too closely up against the cliches of 21st century society with its jibes at narcissism and spiritual emptiness. And yes, there are many, perhaps too many films about the disappearance of children. But Zvyagintsev's ability to make familiar themes his own puts him at the top of world cinema.
10 out of 10 members found this review helpful.
No false comfort here, just stark honesty.
- Loveless review by TE
'Loveless' maintains Zvyagintsev's run of solid gold masterpieces.
Though visually captivating, this is not an easy film to engage with. The anger and the cynicism of the adult world are the dominant motifs, and the absence of care and love towards the child who disappears is truly chilling. The parents learn no lessons and the future for Russia is depicted in very bleak terms.
Zvyagintsev is clearly making some telling points about the state of his nation, but the concerns and the moral decay have universal implications. This is harsh truth-telling at its most riveting.
10 out of 11 members found this review helpful.
Very "Russian" but also very resonant to our own situation.
- Loveless review by RC
Another slice of modern Russian middle-class life from Zvyagintsev (Elena, Banishment, Leviathan) reminding us how similar our societies now are.
The lovelessness of the title is the characters' lives; their empty mediated life produces tragic consequences in their reality.
Slow paced, sometimes satirical, a portrait of the alienation produced by the modern world. Zvyagintsev works in the tradition of great Russian film making, now totally accessible and comprehensible to an English audience.
The consequences of modern life laid bare.
4 out of 4 members found this review helpful.