In association with the Glasgow Film Theatre
Ex-partners Boris and Zhenya fighting over who gets to avoid custody of their twelve-year-old son, Alexey; Alexey running away, leaving his parents unsure whether he has been missing for the last two days or just a couple of hours; Zhenya being unable to remember the last name of her son’s best friend – Loveless is an unrelenting two-hour run of one heart-breaking moment after another. That said, I would definitely recommend it.
Russian filmmaker Andrey Zvyagintsev is best known for 2014’s Leviathan, which received an Oscar nomination for best foreign language film, but to wider audiences Zvyagintsev’s name may not yet ring a bell. I personally hope that sometime soon it will, as while his movies undeniably deal with Russian society in particular, the topics explored in his work are closer to all of us than the ones frequently dealt with in more prominent blockbuster cinema. Varying in degree, we all live in a more and more loveless world.
Throughout Loveless, Zvyagintsev manages to engage the audience with realistic characters, each portrayed as despicable, loveable and pitiable all at once. This mixture gives the films characters a greater believability and relatability, allowing for a mixture of emotions, including both sympathy and empathy, to awake in the viewer as we follow Boris and Zhenya in their search. A compelling aspect of Loveless is its lack of focus on Alexey’s disappearance, often ignoring it altogether. Zvyagintsev often focuses on images of forests covered in snow to build up a strong sense of atmosphere, and the coldness presented in these images remains with the viewer far longer than any questions of the boy’s whereabouts. Moreover, Zvyagintsev frequently makes use of small tangential episodes, which have no role in the wider story of actually finding Alexey, in order to depict the surrounding society in which his parents live. The emphasis on social media, where everything is alluring yet impersonal, and the presentation of a ‘perfect family’ at business events – which no one notices to be actors hired to play a wife and children – all show the impersonality hidden behind ‘picture happy’. In this regard, Loveless is a topical film for all audiences, whether we admit it to ourselves or not. Although a difficult watch, and one which will leave you feeling grim hours after, Loveless is one that should not be avoided.
Loveless will screen at the GFT from the 9th to the 21st of February. Tickets are available here.
The GFT also offers a free 15-25 discount card for students, available here.
15-25 Card holders will also be able to claim 2 for 1 tickets to see Loveless (2 tickets for £5.50).