Loveless (Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2017): Russia | France

Reviewed by Xudong Li. Viewed at AFI Fest 2017.

Loveless is a film about a Russian family that goes through brutal family feuds and a gruesome divorce. The husband and wife both get other partners outside their estranged relationship and start over. However, their 12-year-old son runs away from home after witnessing a bad fight between his parents. The family lives in a suburb of Moscow and is struggling to keep their relationship civil. Since they are used to arguing at all times, they decide to deal with their issues by arguing and getting out of control. Zhenya and Boris reach a point where they feel divorce is the only solution to their problems. The process of divorce gets finalized, and they are all look forward to new lives out of each others’ lives.

Neither of the two parents wants to take custody of their 12-year-old son, and they get to fights eve in front of him. There are several occasions where Zhenya makes shocking statements and comments about taking her child, by claiming that she does not love him just like she does not love Boris. The boy is unhappy, and he is seen on many occasions shading tears because of what was happening around him. What transpires next is the boy disappearing from his home.

The director does an excellent job by pivoting around the family that is on the verge of dissolving. He was able to make the film more intimate and emotional for the viewers. The story of Loveless focuses on relationships and what the people go through during breakups. The director was able to build the story into a life lesson for several things. Cinematographers and editors did an exceptional job in editing the movies since the effects did well in giving the audience a better feel of what was happening in the film.

Additionally, the movie managed to showcase how people behave when they become entirely disconnected with the people they love, especially in a hyper-technological society today. The police also play a significant role in the film, and the director tries to show the audience how they sometimes fail to give protection to the most vulnerable people in the society. Ideally, what is seen in the movie on a more precise perspective is the issue of abusive relationships and behavior, and how they are passed down to the new generations. Ultimately, Loveless resonates with the previous works of the director, since there are richness and excellence in the production process.  

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