Russia’s Andrei Zvyagintsev is the world’s best film maker right now. Following up the monumental Leviathan, Loveless – which I’ve already reviewed in Cannes where it won the Jury Prize, and from the LFF where it won Best Film – is an urban look at the lost soul of Russia, a drama centring on a suburban Moscow couple going through a bitter divorce but force to come together when their son goes missing.
The director, with dispassionate yet deeply moving long takes, examines the couple’s mutual hatred, their selfishness and their brief glimpses of hope and happiness in the arms of their respective new lovers.
Yet any joy is fleeting, dashed by negligence and cruelty as the boy slips between the cracks of society. The police can’t help, but a local volunteer group snap coldly, brutally into action to find the boy – a well-drilled, heartless operation suggesting this happens all the time, without much hope of a result.
The chill brilliance of the camerawork as it burrows deep into the souls of the characters Zhenya (Maryana Spivak) and Boris (Alexei Rozin) reveals a broken society at odds with its instincts, valuing property, religious gesture, systems, war and propaganda more than people and therefore operating on a less than human level. “You can’t live in a loveless state,” remarks the ambitious Zhenya’s wealthy new lover. But that’s exactly what they all do, says this masterful work that grabs you and freezes your heart like an icy blast.
Here’s my interview with Andrei Zvyagintsev that also appears in this week’s edition of The New European.
Loveless is out now in UK cinemas.