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As its title suggests this morbid Russian movie claims to be attempting to draw attention to a national crisis – the desperate plight of children who struggle to cope with self-obsessed parents and an uncaring national police dept. Director Andrey Zvyagintsev and co-writer Oleg Negin (both also responsible for ‘Leviathan' '14 an equally depressing Russian movie) are again taking a savage swipe at Russian institutional corruption – they've used the same format for this, their latest collaboration. The poster advertising suggests this movie will study the impact on the child during a heavy marital separation. Instead, these collaborators spend so much time with perverse voyeuristic scenes of both parents' extramarital sex lives – leaving the suffering of the poor child, mostly to our imagination (if they were truly serious, perhaps this should have been reversed?)
This is just one aspect that tends to put the focus of their movie in mostly the wrong places. Another is its obsessive ‘promo' style study of a volunteer group of missing-child-hunters who up-stage the indifference of the Russian police. This at times feels to be from another movie, and is the sort of ‘story' telling best served as a documentary; perhaps even inspiring more social impact than an enacted drama. In the beginning, the young lad has one or two strong scenes; but the rest highlights the soulless parents, and simply keeps telling us what we already know, stretched over two long hours.
The majority of the dialogue has the parents viciously swearing, and being brutally vulgar towards each other in front of their son - when this is not happening (which is not often) we see them constantly obsessing over their mobile phones (a worldwide phenomenon) and being selfishly absorbed. As with Leviathan, these collaborators seem to single out Christians (as if they are the chief perpetrators of these situations) along with the Russian government for its uncaring bureaucracy. Corruption in Government institutions often needs to be exposed but might also be done in a less heavy-handed manner. Cinematographer, Mikhail Krichman sets up stylish images and gives this movie its best asset. The open-ended ending is also a let down with the last shot being a little unbelievable.
Professional reviewer Emily Yoshida of Vulture.com has been honest enough to call this work out, citing it as, Quote; "A dour film with unlikeable characters and a lack of focus to make a coherent point" (I tend to agree) Otherwise, the usual Awards and accolades proliferate as might be expected in this business of promoting a product.
Powerful and heartbreaking. True to human nature. Don't look for trite resolutions.
the reason of the life and death, love
Depicts modern life at best when a couple is on the verge of a divorce with unwanted child; feelings of resentment and hatred from the mother towards the father who blames him of ruining her life. A deep portrayal of modern life and relationships and its detrimental effect on children.
If you ever want to completely reverse gears emotionally, go from watching a Frank Capra movie to one from Andrey Zvyagintsev. The premise to Loveless is straightforward; a boy goes missing as his parents are going through the process of a bitter divorce, and neither is interested in custody of him. Itâ(TM)s incredibly bleak and brutal, and itâ(TM)s hard to fathom just how uncaring these parents are. They act like this poor kid is an inconvenience, which is hard to watch, so beware if this sort of thing is a trigger for you. The scene of him standing behind a door and listening to them not only argue but do so in a way that reveals how little they care for him is heartbreaking.
The film can feel like a punch to the gut, but I liked its honesty, as well as a few other things:
- The stunning pictures of the trees and river in winter that start the film. My god, I could just sit there and watch these on a loop.
- The exploration into love by its absence. We see that both people are in new relationships which have been going on for some time, and on the surface think, well they are at least capable of love and tenderness under better circumstances. But with the man, we see him confess (at least by not answering the question directly) that heâ(TM)s had many other women along the way, and the woman is so often concerned with her phone and taking selfies, not wondering at all about what her child is doing after school or for dinner. There is such selfishness here, and it spurs the realization that real love requires not only compassion, but some amount of sacrifice. In the womanâ(TM)s toxic relationship with her own mother, we also see how some of this is passed down by generations.
- The subtle criticisms of the Russian administration. At different points in the movie we hear snippets of news reports over the radio and TV, and each reveals a little glimmer of authoritarian rule controlling the press. For example, there is a story talking about why people may expect to see the press be curtailed, because theyâ(TM)re pushing fake stories of an upcoming apocalypse which may drive Russians to drink, and in this sentence referring to the â~people of Pushkin and Putinâ(TM). As Pushkin is revered as the father of modern Russian literature, to put Putin alongside him is odious. Later thereâ(TM)s a fragment of a story on the corruption of an opposition party candidate, and we also see the invasion into Ukraine from the Russian stateâ(TM)s perspective. Itâ(TM)s so fitting that at the end, as a news story from Ukraine is on the TV with people wailing in distress, she goes outside and, wearing a jacket with Russia emblazoned across the front, begins running on a treadmill. The fact that the man works at a company that requires its employees to be happily married with children, and that divorce needs to be kept a secret is also telling.
- That search crew, which is so well organized. Perhaps in the fact that they are volunteers we can find a small ray of hope for humanity.
How to be the worst parents of the world in ten steps. Between 2 and 2.5, because the movie, apart from the dramatic initial point and the description of how a boy is looked for when he disappears, does not tell much more.
This mesmerizing movie manages to provide both a realistic and heartbreaking story while also providing sharp and subtle social commentary about life in Russia.
A Russian couple is struggling. She seem very angry, he seem careless and they are both having affairs and are just waiting to end they're marriage. They have a kid, a boy at twelve, and sadly, they bearly know him. He lives at home, but he only finds hate and stress there. One day he never returns. The parents must work together to get him back - a task that's not easy.
This is a great take on cold marriages. The hunt of wanting so much more without fixing things. It's presented with lovely, cold imagery. Stunning photography matches the dark atmosphere and brutal story. I also like som of the neat alternative camera focuses the director uses. Solid acting and a great pace as the search for the boy intensifies.
Andrey Zvyagintsev has been a favoite for years. "The Return" is still my favorite of his, but this one is up there with "Leviatan" and "Izgnanie". At the same time I feel he is becoming better with each movie. They feel more complete and he's directing feel stronger.
8 out of 10 bases.
Loveless is the Russian Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language film. This story could be set in any country which makes it that more heartbreaking. A 12 year old runs away from home after hearing a horrific argument between his parents ending in both yelling they don't want custody of him and maybe the best solution would be to place him in an orphanage. He disappears (after two days they parents thinking each other had him) and movie deals with his disappearance. This is quite a compelling movie.
Difficult to watch. Modern Russian parents so selfish and morally bankrupt, they crush their child's spirit.