The latest from Andrey Zvyagintsev (Leviathan) profiles a family torn apart by a vicious divorce, in which the parents are more interested in starting their lives over with new partners than tending to their 12-year-old son.
Among the snowy high-rises of modern Moscow lives stocky salesman Boris and Zhenya, a youthful salon owner. Having migrated to shiny new partners, the couple's relationship is coming to a bitter end and the fate of their 12-year-old son Alyosha is the last thing on their minds. When Alyosha goes missing without a trace, his parents can barely grieve in unison.
Loveless is a story about a heartless marriage on the verge of collapse faced with tragedy. It also illuminates multilayered dichotomies embedded in Russian society. Battles between old and new beliefs, public and private institutions, post-Soviet infrastructures and nouveau riche establishments linger throughout.
Andrey Zvyagintsev (Leviathan, Elena) is the master of crafting a drama with the cinematic tropes of a thriller. Moreover, he is an expert at exposing his world for what it has become. We watch as the director's countrymen ruthlessly step all over each other in order to claw to the top. As Vladimir Putin flexes his muscles and expands westward, Loveless — which was made without the strings of state funding and won the Jury Prize at Cannes — may at first appear to be about a specifically Russian phenomenon, but it's not. Lovelessness is universal.