The Films of Andrey Zvyagintsev
Loveless (February 19/18)
A slow, grim drama, Loveless follows squabbling exes Zhenya (Maryana Spivak) and Boris (Aleksey Rozin) as they're forced to work together after their young son (Matvey Novikov's Alyosha) goes missing. The narrative, in its early stages, details the respective efforts of the central characters to begin their new lives, however, as writer/director Andrey Zvyagintsev delivers a deliberate first act that's concerned primarily with developing the protagonists and their simmering hatred for one another. It's fairly interesting stuff that's heightened by the superb performances and strong visuals, although, by that same token, Zvyagintsev's less-than-aggressive approach to his own material ensures that much of Loveless, while impressive, isn't quite as engrossing as one might've anticipated - with the film, more often than not, far more successful on a scene-to-scene basis than as a whole (ie there's not much momentum here). There's little doubt, then, that Loveless' hold on the viewer increases substantially in its far more propulsive second half, as Zvyagintsev devotes much of this portion of the proceedings to the incredibly intense search for Novikov's character - with the emphasis on the operation's minutia essentially transforming the picture into a procedural in its third act. The predictably downbeat conclusion confirms Loveless' place as a distinctly overlong yet fairly rewarding piece of work, with the movie's hit-and-miss vibe generally allayed by Zvyagintsev's obvious (and tremendous) talent behind the camera (ie his talent is undeniable, to be sure).