Loveless (Nelyubov) Reviews
This film felt like a lamentation for the current state of the Russian people brought forth with the intimate tale of a disastrous marriage and divorce.
Being Russian myself, and coming from a less than perfect family, this movie hit home too many times. For me it was a very personal exploration of the deepest recesses of the Russian family. It was done masterfully through disturbingly accurate acting, starkly oppressive cinematography, and an ominously brilliant soundtrack. The way this film managed to interweave grand themes of the degradation of an entire nation and culture, and the more intimate themes of love and abandonment, was deeply impressive. It left a strong lasting impression.
The movie had a very distinct and strong sense of identity and atmosphere. All the cold and impersonal visuals did a great job as the background for our despondent failed couple.
The emotional weight this film carries with it ends up slicing deep, bringing out grief for the current state of affairs, the lovelessness the nation is mired in. This was possible thanks to the amazing job everybody on the technical side of things did; giving this painful tale a beautiful cinematic body.
It feels like a very important and honest introspective film. It tapped into some painful points and I appreciate it for doing so. Another great film by Zvyagintsev.
First hour and a half is very well done. Excellent on many levels. The last half hour not so much. But it was still interesting.
Just remember lunch cost $3.70.
For your $8 you get $8.67 of entertainment. About 20 minutes more than you'll want or need.
Necessary scenes at the beginning set up what takes place later. We meet 12-year-old Alexey (Matvey Novikov) as he overhears his soon to be divorced parents arguing and neither wanting custody of him. They are trying to sell their apartment. His father, Boris, (Aleksey Rozin) is a middle management desk salesman who works where divorce is a sin and could cost him his job. Meanwhile, he is living with his new, now pregnant, girlfriend, Marsha (Marina Vasilyeva) in her mother's home. Alexey's mother, Zhenya, (Maryana Spivak) owns a beauty salon and spends many hours with her new lover, Anton, (Andris Keishs), who, by the way, has a home I would love to live in! She is also strongly attached to her cell phone as both the director and cinematographer constantly, needlessly, show us her using it.
After all this is established we understand Alexey disappearing and his parents not even knowing it until his teacher calls to ask why he hasn't been in school for 2 days. The film then turns into the search for the boy, mainly by civilian volunteers as it seems the police have neither the men, the money or the time to search for all the kids missing.
The search, led by Ivan (Alesky Fateev), takes up the major part of the film with, once again, too many long and repetitive scenes that undermines the suspense. There are many detours from the main story such as meeting Zhenya's mother (Nataliya Potapova) Marsha's mother (Anna Gulyarenko) plus a co-worker (Roman Madyanov) but we are always taken back to the search of the forests, buildings, rivers and surroundings. We are given a thorough lesson in what is involved in a search for a kid who may have run away or been kidnapped or met some disaster that no parent wants to face.
The basic premises of the marriage and the search for the disappearing boy are what makes the movie so interesting but there are one too many cell phone scenes--yes we get it that Russians are as tied to them as Americans and other countries are--snow scenes and, yes, too many sex scenes!
There is a lot of politics in the movie including the USA election in 2012 but the last shot of Zhenya jogging on a treadmill wearing a red sweatsuit emblazed with RUSSIA across the front went right over my head if it means anything.
"Loveless" will be an excellent movie when you can fast-forward the repetitive scenes and photography and slow it down each time--and there are many, yes, even too many---Anton's house is shown.
There have been few movie characters who I've found as unlikable as Zhenya. In the course of a two-hour movie, she tells three different people that she only married Boris because she was pregnant and that she should have aborted Alyosha, who she openly mocks in front of strangers. Her new boyfriend, who has a grown daughter who he actually loves, responds with the Russian equivalent of "that's cool" when she tells him this. What?? No, dude. I don't care how good the sex is...when your girlfriend tells you she wishes she had aborted her son and was too repulsed to even look at him when he was born, that right there should be a deal-breaker.
Boris is no great shakes as a parent either. He seems to care about Alyosha at least a little bit, but not enough to want him encumbering his new life. He apparently never loved Zhenya either, and as ridiculous as this sounds, only married her because his very religious boss requires all of his employees to be married.
Meanwhile Alyosha is missing. Searches are conducted and fliers are posted and hospitals are checked and people are interviewed and Zhenya remains a self-absorbed, bitter, Facebook-addicted shrew and Boris remains emotionally-stunted but at least he participates in the search effort.
Though this movie is purportedly about Alyosha's mysterious disappearance and tons of screen time is dedicated to showing the search efforts, finding him is almost beside the point. Not for me - I was all in on trying to solve the mystery - but apparently for whoever wrote the screenplay, who basically uses Alyosha as a prop to highlight his parent's unhappy lives.
I've skimmed a few reviews that all seem to think that the movie is filled with symbolism about modern-day Russia and blah blah blah, but I got a C-minus in freshman English for my refusal to believe that there's more to every story than the literal interpretation, so how the hell do I know.
No matter how you slice it, this is one majorly depressing movie. You know how some movies start out kind of happy and then at some point take a downward turn? Well that's not this one. Starts depressing, stays depressing throughout. No happy people, no happy scenes. Not a single moment of levity.