Most memorable movies on marital breakdown, and they are a dime a dozen, parallel its imminent collapse with interplays between malaise, disaffection and conflict. In Zvyagintsev’s grim, gripping and scorching look at a crumbling marriage in Loveless – a fabulous follow-up to the terrific Leviathan – the relationship has crossed the point of no return; in fact, it has grown so openly toxic and is in such a state of irreparable disrepair at the start of narrative itself, that the film’s title, ironically, appeared moderate in comparison. Zhenya (Maryana Spivak), who’s begun an affair with a wealthy older man, can’t stop spewing vitriol when he sees her husband Boris (Aleksey Rozin); while he, also in an extra-marital affair and worried of losing his job because of his ultra-conservative boss, seems every time on the verge of imploding in return. Their blistering hostility, and its damaging repercussions on their 12-year old son Alyosha (Matvei Novikov), traumatized by his belligerent parents for whom his existence has taken a fringe position – the shot capturing his silent howl in the dark was really powerful – made for bleak viewing. And then, one day, the kid disappears into thin air, perhaps as a metaphorical cry to finally establish an indelible presence through his physical absence. The massive hunt organized by a volunteer group led by a weary, impassive coordinator (Alexey Fateev) – inspired by the real-life non-profit search-and-rescue organization Liza Alert – as opposed to by the cops, which temporarily forces the couple to come together, formed the film’s most compelling section through a mix of rippling suspense, growing fatalism and a searing commentary by a filmmaker deeply critical of the Putin regime and of the country’s social institutions.
Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev
Genre: Drama/Marital Drama/Urban Drama