Russia’s Oscar nominated foreign language feature, “Loveless,” is another fine but uncompromising film from director Andrey Zvyagintsev (“Leviathan”).
Those of you who took time to absorb 2014’s methodical but excellent “Leviathan” can breathe a little easier, “Loveless” is a little less work. Essentially, this is a lost child narrative that is punctuated by several sexy moments with an unflinching examination of divorce in Moscow.
Some time after Zhenya (Maryana Spivak) and Boris (Aleksey Rozin) part ways, their son, Alyosha (Matvey Novikov), disappears. This happens around the midpoint of the film, after the relationship has deteriorated and mom and dad have moved on. The little boy is just gone, no where to be found.
The search that dominates the second half of the movie is really disturbing. The parents can’t find a way to cooperate leading to arguments that confound their efforts. Unfolding with the backdrop of current events taking place in the Ukraine, the story of a lost child is almost quaint by comparison. And as all hope of finding the boy seems lost, things get bleaker and bleaker.
Beautiful cinematography perfectly captures the mood of the story. These visuals match the committed performances, especially by Spivak, who really nails it in one particularly shattering scene. And there are several tense and creepy moments giving the film the feeling of something from David Fincher, although “Loveless” certainly isn’t “Gone Girl.” Zvyagintsev works once again with cinematographer Mikhail Krichman with whom he worked with on “Leviathan.” Both projects are filled with muted colors and every single shade of gray. Hopefully, their next collaboration will be a bit brighter both visually and narratively.
An interesting, but emotionally gut-wrenching affair, “Loveless” is a challenge worth experiencing.