Film is always at its best when it holds up a mirror, reflecting our own lives on the big screen. It’s that very quality that makes Loveless such a powerful drama, and confirms director Andrey Zvyagintsev as one of the finest filmmakers working today.
Zhenya (Maryana Spivak) and Boris (Aleksey Rozin) are a couple in the midst of an acrimonious divorce. Bitterly severing their remaining ties, the pair are already embarking on new relationships, even if that means abandoning their 12-year-old son, Alyosha (Matvey Novikov). After he overhears his parents fighting, a devastated Alyosha disappears, and Zhenya and Boris are forced to put their new lives on hold as they join efforts to find him.
Zvyagintsev never flinches from the reality of what happens when love breaks down, but he also examines how his characters’ attitudes are derived from modern life. Boris hides the divorce from his deeply religious boss, and starts afresh with his new, pregnant, girlfriend. Meanwhile, Zhenya revels in self-preservation of a different kind – spa treatments, social media and a wealthy new boyfriend. Their aspirations of starting a new chapter in their lives only pour resentment into their treatment of Alyosha.
Loveless is a visually mesmerising story that asks tough questions of modern society, and of our relationships with our families. Although the film is set in Russia, its themes are entirely universal, and reflect a world in which social survival has morphed into greed over several generations.
Influenced and personally endorsed by the great Ingmar Bergman, former actor and self-taught director Zvyagintsev repeats the success of his incredible Leviathan with this critically adored film. It has already taken top prizes at Cannes and the London Film Festival, and has been tipped for multiple categories at the BAFTAs and Oscars.
Zvyagintsev directs meticulously and draws superb performances from all involved, creating a film that will stay with audiences for a long time. Where so many others gloss over life’s challenges, Loveless uses harsh reality to craft one of the most human stories of the year. It’s utterly unmissable for lovers of world-class cinema.