Published on March 16th, 2018 | by Neil Jordan0
Greetings & Salutations Fellow Movie Fanatics!
Speaking as someone who grew up in the United States, prides themselves on having a vast and diverse movie library, and only leaves the confines of the greater Seattle-area on very rare occasions .. I’m the first to admit that there are times when I don’t fully appreciate the films produced in other countries. It’s amazing how different they can be based on even differences in other cultures. Take films made in Russia for example. Perhaps it’s the cold and bleakness of the country but Russian filmmakers are amongst the best when it comes to tragedies. I imagine it’s a ‘carry over’ in part from the great literary masterpieces to come out of that country. Not to give it all away right from the beginning but if you’re like me, you need to prepare yourself for a good tragedy and that’s exactly what the film is that is up for your consideration.
‘Loveless’ is a 2017 Russian tragedy from noted director Andrey Zvyaginstev and co-written by Zvyaginstev and Oleg Negin. As with Zvyaginstev’s 2014 tragedy ‘Leviathan’, ‘Loveless’ has quickly risen to critical acclaim and already won several accolades including the Jury Prize at 2017 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards.
‘Loveless’ stars Maryana Spivak, Aleksey Rozin, and Matvey Novikov. It’s the end of the day for 12 year-old Alexey (Novikov). He says farewell to the few friends he has at school and takes the long way home through the woods following a river on the outskirts of Moscow. It’s a cold, dreary afternoon yet it’s preferable to what awaits him at home. His parents Zhenya (Spivak) and Boris (Rozin) are separated and engaged in bitter divorce proceedings but to both, the marriage was over long ago. The only difference is now are that they are living separately and they’re also trying to shrug parental responsibilities off on one another. They seem to have no issue vocalizing their mutual belief that having Alexey was a mistake. Their only real concerns seem to be getting their son out of their lives so they can move on with their new spouses and each begin a whole new family obliterating any connection they ever had or made. All this in a country that that is engaged in a war against its own people and against the Ukraine. The destruction of a family with parents at war with one another leaving the child as the innocent victim.
Zhenya returns to her apartment after spending time with her new lover to find Alexey gone and messages from his school stating he had not been there in two days. She calls Boris in an attempt to locate Alexey and after another argument over the phone finally decides to call in the police. After starting to show the smallest amount of concern for Alexey and disgust over the low priority that the police are assigning their son’s case, Zhenya and Boris call in a special volunteer unit specializing in searching for missing persons. While the parents actively participate in searching for their son, they continue to fight and engage in hostilities towards one another showing such selfishness and a blatant disregard for their son’s well being that you begin to wonder how far they can take it.
Although the film isn’t my ‘normal cup of tea’, i’m going to give it 4 out of 5 stars Zvyaginstev has crafted another tragic masterpiece putting ‘Loveless’ almost on par with ‘Leviathan’. The film highlights the lack of empathy displayed by families in modern society. Although the film has a ‘predictability’ given Zvyaginstev’s past work it is beautifully shot and well written. Watching the downward spiral of the family in this film is almost like reading a piece sheet music. It’s ominous. It’s not just name calling and insults … it’s as though it’s being disassembled piece by piece which although dark and bleak is still quite intriguing. I’d personally recommend you catch it in an independent movie theater or a small art house theater. It’s a 2 hour movie so I’d recommend catching it at a small theater.