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European films

Loveless film review: Russian director’s tale of divorce and social decay an instant classic

This modern-day masterpiece from Andrey Zvyagintsev, captured by cinematographer Mikhail Krichman, uses the tale of a lost boy to explore a society rotting to its very core

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 April, 2018, 6:00pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 April, 2018, 6:00pm

5/5 stars

A stern, sombre and utterly rigorous work, Loveless is exactly as bleak as its title suggests. Don’t expect anything other than an emotionally exhausting experience. Directed and co-written by Andrey Zvyagintsev ( Leviathan , Elena), it’s a tale of a missing child that explores in great depth the themes of marriage and love, Russian society and the world at large.

Middle-class married couple Boris (Alexey Rozin) and Zhenya (Maryana Spivak) still live together, but are on the verge of divorce. They’re already moving on with their lives, but left in between is their 12 year-old son Alyosha (Matvey Novikov). When he disappears one day without a trace, it forces the couple to come together and cooperate in their search for him.

Loveless’ director, a two-time Oscar nominee, and cast talk bureaucracy and state condemnation in Russia

With the oppressive urban landscapes expertly captured by cinematographer Mikhail Krichman, Zvyagintsev casts a steely and relentless gaze over both his characters and the world they inhabit. On the surface we see the police procedural, as the usual steps are taken to locate Alyosha. But burrowing beneath, this a vicious look at a society rotting to its very core.

Loveless was a jury prizewinner in Cannes, that was nominated in all the major awards this year – though, it lost out every time. That shouldn’t put you off, however. Like his spiritual forefather and fellow countryman, Andrei Tarkovsky, Zvyagintsev is a powerful teller of the truth, and his latest is a modern-day masterpiece.

Loveless opens on April 12

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