Loveless Screen 23 articles



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  • [Zvyagintsev's wide-screen] technique peaked with the searing anti-Putin allegory Leviathan, Zvyagintsev's best film to date, in which his compositions take on a political dimension, making the characters seem like pawns in a system beyond their control. His latest feature, Loveless, is no less cold or bitter than Leviathan and uses its wide-screen frame almost as effectively. The characters tend to be isolated from each other, the physical space between them reflecting their emotional distance.

  • As George Orwell famously wrote in "1984," “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.” Without a past to rely on, people are cut off from sources of strength, community, fellow feeling. Children are the ultimate victims. . . . "Loveless" is a hopeless film, and in the current atmosphere in Russia, admitting hopelessness is a radical act. "Loveless" is not afraid to call things by their proper names.

  • Zvyagintsev rhymes stifling domestic rituals—including those of the obviously doomed relationship that Boris is forging with Masha—with the office protocol at the corporation where Boris works. Lunchtime has rarely looked so uncomfortable in cinema as it does here. Zvyagintsev emphasizes the assembly-line monotony of the cafeteria and the ill-fitting suits worn by men who worry that divorces could destroy their legacy at the faceless corporation that employs them.

  • Big-picture thinking has earned Zvyagintsev a spot on the world stage, with Cannes competition slots and prizes. He belongs there: on a shot-for-shot, cut-for-cut basis, his output could be taken for the work of a young(ish) master, a grim perfectionist in the Haneke mould. But for all their size and spaciousness – a stately parade of carefully strategised widescreen compositions pointing up barely concealed subtexts – his movies also feel curiously puny. They shrink when they should expand.

  • Few living filmmakers put as much care and intentionality into their storytelling craft as the emergent Russian master Andrey Zvyagintsev. . . . The camera in Loveless doesn’t just invisibly serve character and story, it functions as its own narrative device—the omniscient eye.

  • In a way that recalls R.W. Fassbinder’s adversarial relationship with Germany, his films are very much critiques of Russia, its soul and contemporary discontents. For that reason, “Loveless” can be seen not just as a drama of marital dysfunction but as a fierce metaphorical indictment of the society that produced its characters.

  • With its fastidious framing and angry-tough temperament, “Loveless” (a title distilled in a single image of a child’s violated, unclaimed corpse) earns its air of careful foreboding. Again and again, Mikhail Krichman’s camera creeps forward as if about to reveal something frightful while we stare, hearts in mouths. The trick is shamelessly manipulative, but it lends the movie an ominousness that’s powerfully magnetic.

  • Two representative moments define Andrei Zvyagintsev’s Loveless — and they are among the most devastating, harrowing things I’ve ever seen on a screen. I won’t spoil what they are, as one relies on the element of surprise and the other happens quite late. But their raw emotionalism both complicates and deepens Zvyagintsev’s film, which hovers between personal drama and deep political allegory.

  • Zvyagintsev captures domestic violence, or rather, captures the violence in the domestic, in cold-blooded fashion. He doesn't pity the child, nor does he vilify the parents. He doesn't ask us to identify with or against anyone. He doesn't allow us to regard the tragedies of domestic life, the selfishness of parental labor, as some kind of Russian exclusivity. The setup feels unnervingly familiar from the very beginning... Think of the film as Scenes from a Marriage for the age of social media.

  • For many viewers, what will remain stuck in their minds is not Loveless’ critique of Putinism, but rather its relentless misogyny: Zhenya is depicted as an unredeemable harridan and, as a consequence, she emerges as more of a villain than any politician or soulless oligarch. Though Zvyagintzev inserts some news reports detailing the Russian government’s disdain for the Ukrainian regime..., they end up trivializing the political malaise they are purportedly illuminating.

  • Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Nelyubov (Loveless) forms a fascinating duplet with A Gentle Creature, both for the similarities and the differences between the two filmmakers. As opposed to Loznitsa’s deliberate positioning as an heir to the dissidents-in-exile of the Soviet era, issuing a strident, lacerating assault on the power system in place under Putin, Zvyagintsev has adopted a nimbler relationship with the Russian state.

  • No less subtle [than Happy End]—and winner of the third-place jury prize—Loveless is a handsome, wintry drama about a divorcing couple and their unwanted child that evolves into an allegory of soul-sick modern Russia.

  • The picture is made with a seeming chilliness that’s actually a kind of anguished warmth, and it works both as the story of a nation caught in a thorny crisis and as a fraught drama of a family torn apart by its own coldness and greed.

  • What’s most wonderful about Loveless is its careful, relentless visual style, especially the shots that take in the more oblique, seemingly peripheral scenes, such as the search groups in the woods and the moment when a random schoolteacher is seen to wipe her black board and clear up her stuff. Somehow Zvyagintsev feels more contemporary even than Haneke right now.

  • Any reservations remain relatively minor. His bold confidence in the articulacy of a striking image and subtly suggestive sound is evident from the very opening moments... A closing scene involving a too blatantly branded tracksuit and a direct-to-camera stare may strike some as a little heavy-handed, but for the most part Zvyagintsev again gets the balance between credible characterisation of individuals and state-of-the-nation commentary just right.

  • This small, cynical story has large scope—Russia as a corrosive, dying marriage producing delinquent offspring—and the spaces in which it takes place (rich flats, the boy’s school, a ruined complex, a forest) fill the canvas with bold, expansive reach. Zvyagintsev films the world large, however modest the story, and this film world impresses upon those within, as well as us observers, its fulsome, innate and unsubtle monumentality.

  • As unsentimental as it is dim (in every sense of the word). I try to avoid form/content dichotomies, but “technically impressive” is about as close to a compliment as I can lob at this misogynistic, portentous and vapid film... The dramaturgy is marked by cliched representations of marital strife... and its images of wintry, bourgeois solitude are as pretty as they are obvious.

  • Although Leviathan, Zvyagintsev’s previous and far-superior effort, was hardly a masterclass in nuance, a palpable sense of empathy and flashes of humor largely compensated for its lack of subtlety. These are sorely lacking in Loveless. The film’s title may refer to the protagonists’ marriage and its symbolic connotations, but it’s also a perfect description of Zvyagintsev’s treatment of his subject matter.

  • Uncontroversial points abound, but Zvyagintsev does not stitch the observations of his film to depth of character or story. The lead couple are cautionary avatars, who only pause from their one-note carping to relay a few expository chunks. The visual splendour of the film is sufficiently beguiling, but as the end comes into characteristically open-ended focus, it seems as though Zvyagintsev has been so preoccupied with creating symbolic resonance that he has jettisoned all that lies beneath.

  • Refraining from the much larger canvass he used for Leviathan, Zvyagintsev drills into each of his two main characters pitilessly, suggesting that on top of all their other emotional shortcomings, they have learned nothing from the past and will remain the same in future. Though Loveless tends to overstay its welcome at over two hours, given the director’s reputation, festival and art house careers are assured, even if not as spectacular as his previous successes.

  • A shatteringly bleak family drama that expands into a corrosive critique of its country’s social, political and spiritual ills... Russia has of course been dominating the American news cycle for reasons that are never mentioned here, and for those inclined to dismiss an entire country as a sinister monolithic entity, this picture’s rich artistry and slow-burning moral anger will serve as an important corrective.

  • Nothing could have truly prepared us for the apocalyptic despair of “Loveless,” perhaps his most brilliant, but also most profoundly pessimistic film to date that, couched in such viscerally intelligent, skillful filmmaking, may also be his most persuasive. This is the downer as an art form, a feelbad film of gargantuan reach and effect, and a brave, horrified commentary on a whole nation.

  • With his devastating, finely layered new drama Loveless (Nelyubov), Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev once again demonstrates his remarkable gift for creating perfectly formed dramatic microcosms that illustrate the bred-in-the-bone pathologies of Russian society.

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