- Colin Fraser
FOUR AND A HALF STARS A spiteful, separated couple try to find their son who's gone missing.
Maryana Spivak, Aleksey Rozin
DRAMA RUSSIAN #LOVELESS
From the director of one of 2014’s best films (LEVIATHAN), his latest drama stands to be one of 2018’s best. The harrowing LOVELESS is made even better by appearing to be about so little: a spiteful, separated couple search for their child when he goes missing. Outwardly, that’s about it. Yet anyone familiar with the films of Andrey Zvyagintsev (such as the exceptional ELENA) will know they’re the cinematic equivalent of an over-ripe onion: peel back layer upon layer to reveal a rotten core. And what a core it is as the director draws sharp commentary about the state of Putin’s Russia (it’s no coincidence that the missing boy was born the year the President took charge), the selfish classes and a loss of innocence, among other universal themes.
And it’s that universality that commends Zvyagintsev to audiences. Although the film is set firmly in the Russian landscape, many of those themes are just as applicable in our own - particularly the commercialisation of concern in a world that’s replaced society with economy. That and his singular command of the medium. There’s not a scene, moment or frame that feels out of place: everything connects and supports like a finely crafted jigsaw.
LOVELESS is a tragic poem to a land the director plainly cares about, but also the spiritual decay affecting all humanity. Bleak certainly, cruel absolutely, yet being forced to contemplate society’s ills is an oddly beautiful experience as well. Such is the journey that Zvyagintsev takes you on, you’ll want to take it again. Perhaps he brings out the martyr, more likely the non-commercial concern. Either way, such is the accomplishment of this film that you’ll relish the opportunity to rewatch this truly rewarding experience.