Blu-ray Review: Loveless

STUDIO: Sony | DIRECTOR: Andrey Zvyagintsev | CAST: Aleksey Rozin, Maryana Spivek, Matvey Novikov
RELEASE DATE: June 12, 2018 | PRICE: Blu-ray $22.99
BONUSES: making-of featurette
SPECS: R | 127 min. | Foreign language drama | 2.40:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 | Russian with English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio | Video  | Overall 

, Russia’s Academy Award 2018 nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, is directed and co-written by Andrey Zvyagintsev, whose last film, 2014’s Leviathan, also received an Oscar nod. Whereas the latter dealt with political and personal corruption in a small coastal town in contemporary Russia, Loveless takes on even more intimate social issues—marriage, divorce, parenting and abandonment—against a modern backdrop of ever-changing values in the motherland.

Matvey Novikov in Loveless

In the film, Zhenya (Maryana Spivek) and Boris (Aleksey Rozin) are going through a vicious divorce marked by resentment, frustration and recriminations.  Already embarking on new lives, each with a new partner, they are impatient to start again, to turn the page – even if it means threatening to abandon their 12-year-old son Alyosha (Matvey Novikov). Until, after witnessing one of their fights, the young Alyosha disappears …

At its center is the unsettling search for a missing child which, in modern Russia, involves securing the help of a volunteer group specializing in such searches when the police lazily categorize the situations as the simple case of a runaway child. Circling the central search are a pair of parents on the brink of separation who are more distracted—and, in the case of Zhenya, in particular–more interested in their lovers and the new lives that await them following their divorce. The missing Alyosha is as more of an annoyance than a child whose life has been severely disrupted by his parents’ disregard for him.

It’s strong stuff, all smartly and coolly composed and served up by filmmaker Zvyagintsev. He frames his story carefully and keeps a tight rein on anything that may read as too overwrought. The tone is consistent, up through the final shot of the cell phone-obsessed selfish Zhenya wearing a leotard and “Russia” tank top jogging on an outdoor treadmill as snow falls around her, not moving forward as she sets out on a literal road to nowhere. Mother Russia, indeed…

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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.