By Jen Sidorova, October 20 2017 —
Loveless centres on the divorce of middle-class couple Zhenya and Boris and its effects on their family. It’s a seemingly ordinary tale, with the now ex-couple selling their apartment, living with new lovers and debating the future of their only son, Alyosha. However, this causal story takes the tone of a psychological thriller upon Alyosha’s disappearance. Director Andrey Zvyagintsev reveals the dark underside of the family by showing human relationships in a sharp light. After two hours, the tragedy of the failed marriage becomes as painful for the viewer as it was for the miserably unloved Alyosha.
A strange feeling emerges while observing the relationships between mother, father and son, like overhearing neighbours fight behind thin apartment walls. The hatred shown by the main characters towards each other and their indifference towards their child is real enough to shock the viewer. But this is how divorces happen in a real life — through hatred and requited blame. Loveless simply reflects observations of human nature in the framework of an independent Russian movie.
Loveless also explores the origin of this falling-out. Being abhorred and unwelcomed by her own mother, Zhenya doesn’t know how to love her son or how to express her feelings to others. The emotional trauma makes her insensitive to her closest relatives. By toiling over her iPhone, Zhenya tries to find a substitute for love and spends most of the movie sending messages on Facebook and posting selfies on Instagram. She also sees her new, older boyfriend as an alternative to her stifling mother and absent father. The dialogues between Boris, Zhenya and her new lover reflect her own past in a very philosophical way, but only complicate her future.
Despite such real-world discomfort, Loveless is still thrilling to watch. It made me feel like a gossipy neighbour told me the terrible truth about a family next door.
Loveless screened at the 2017 Calgary International Film Festival and will be released nationwide in early 2018.