I’m not familiar with the work of Andrey Zvyagintsev, although his previous movie, Leviathan, got a BAFTA nomination (as this has) for Best Film not in the English Language.
However, I’m reliably informed he has a ‘style’ consistent with that on display in Loveless that could most accurately be described as; bleak.
Shot in naturalistic (i.e. low) light in the depths of Russian winter it makes little or no concession to cinematic gloss. Although the extremely sparingly applied soundtrack by Evgeny and Sasha Galperin is strangely brilliant.
Loveless is the story of a 12 year old boy in Moscow who disappears after hearing a vicious argument between his, very much, not in love parents, neither of whom want the responsibility of bringing him up once their impending divorce is settled.
It’s a slow burn after that as we follow the search for the young boy who has left no clues as to how, why or where he is.
It portrays Moscow in as bleak a light as any you’ll have seen since those gritty 60’s/70’s German/Polish dirges and yet it’s kind of compelling. It’s actually quite engrossing, even as you reel at the circumstances that have led to his parents’ estrangement and weirdly unemotional connection with the situation they find themselves in.
Loveless is the perfect title for a movie that deals with intimacy, relationship and familial bonds without even a shred of real love being displayed.
Frankly, it’s horrible, but don’t let that put you off. It’s a fine piece of art if not a multiplex filler.