Loveless

Loveless

2018, R, 127 min. Directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev. Starring Maryana Spivak, Aleksey Rozin, Matvey Novikov, Marina Vasileva, Andris Keiss, Aleksey Fateev, Sergey Borisov, Natalya Potapova, Anna Gulyarenko.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., March 30, 2018

An inertial, adversarial marriage caught up in its own slow and steady tailspin becomes even worse when the couple’s only child vanishes into thick air one day. Indeed, this portrait of Russian lower-middle-class despair and desperation is clouded over with a super-slow-burn miasma of dread and disconnection that, while overlong, resonates with the sheer randomness of modern life. Director Zvyagintsev (Leviathan) exposes the viral, negative effects of technology and the workplace on a marriage, and the communication issues – or total lack thereof – common to even the most banal couples overwhelmed by the mad pace of a world evolving too fast.

Set in a colorless Moscow suburb in 2012, semi-separated couple Zhenya (Spivak) and Boris (Rozin) kill time before a presumed divorce by bickering and taking other lovers to salve their mutual woundings. She runs a salon, he’s a corporate drone of some insubstantial kind, and their 12-year-old son Alyosha (Novikov) is beloved by neither even as the pair attempt to sell off their longtime apartment. Certainly the occasional visit by the realtor is more important than Alyosha’s fate to these two selfish individuals, but Zvyagintsev parlays this miserable family into a granularly realistic depiction of three lives completely out of balance with one another.

When the child goes missing, there’s a patently depressing muddle of non-options available to Zhenya and Boris. The Moscow police are of little to no help, explaining to Zhenya that the family would be far better off hiring an all-volunteer organization to search for the boy. Add to this the fact that Boris’ mystery job views divorce among its workforce as a sin on a par with simply not showing up for work, and the fact that both spouses' new flames don’t seem to know what makes them tick either, and Loveless is a grim picture of mutual enmity and emotional upheaval. All three leads give subtly wrenching performances that wouldn’t have been out of place in Ingmar Bergman’s oeuvre, and the film’s more forthright depictions of self-inflicted tech-rot – selfies galore, constant attention to an iPhone’s black mirror at the expense of “real life” – make this less a Russian arthouse import than a doleful slice of anti-life. See it with someone you don’t love that much.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Andrey Zvyagintsev Films
Leviathan
This Oscar nominee for best Foreign Language film exudes existential Russian angst in cinematic form.

Marc Savlov, Feb. 27, 2015

More by Marc Savlov
SXSW Film Review: <i>Daniel Isn’t Real</i>
Film Review: Daniel Isn’t Real
Enter the imaginary anti-friend

March 14, 2019

Raising Hell With the Legacy of Molly Ivins at SXSW
SXSW Film Review: Raise Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins
Texas’ beloved crusading journalist gets her documentary due

March 12, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Loveless, Andrey Zvyagintsev, Maryana Spivak, Aleksey Rozin, Matvey Novikov, Marina Vasileva, Andris Keiss, Aleksey Fateev, Sergey Borisov, Natalya Potapova, Anna Gulyarenko

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle