“Loveless”–movie review   Leave a comment

“Loveless”, a 2018 Oscar nominee for best foreign language film, from Russia, could have, should have, would have been a powerful picture if the director, Andrey Zvyagintsev, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Oleg Negin, had an editor, Anna Mass, who could have reigned him and the cinematographer, Mikhail Krichman, with less is more. One too many scenes with a cell phone, have one scene with seeing snow through a window, have 3 more, be sure many scenes run 30 seconds to 2 minutes too long and throw in a few that do nothing but extend the movie’s running time and take away from the drama unfolding on the screen.

Necessary scenes at the beginning set up what takes place later. We meet 12-year-old Alexey (Matvey Novikov) as he overhears his soon to be divorced parents arguing and neither wanting custody of him. They are trying to sell their apartment. His father, Boris, (Aleksey Rozin) is a middle management desk salesman who works where divorce is a sin and could cost him his job. Meanwhile, he is living with his new, now pregnant, girlfriend, Marsha (Marina Vasilyeva) in her mother’s home. Alexey’s mother, Zhenya, (Maryana Spivak) owns a beauty salon and spends many hours with her new lover, Anton, (Andris Keishs), who, by the way, has a home I would love to live in! She is also strongly attached to her cell phone as both the director and cinematographer constantly, needlessly, show us her using it.

After all this is established we understand Alexey disappearing and his parents not even knowing it until his teacher calls to ask why he hasn’t been in school for 2 days. The film then turns into the search for the boy, mainly by civilian volunteers as it seems the police have neither the men, the money or the time to search for all the kids missing.

The search, led by Ivan (Alesky Fateev), takes up the major part of the film with, once again, too many long and repetitive scenes that undermines the suspense. There are many detours from the main story such as meeting Zhenya’s mother (Nataliya Potapova) Marsha’s mother (Anna Gulyarenko) plus a co-worker (Roman Madyanov) but we are always taken back to the search of the forests, buildings, rivers and surroundings. We are given a thorough lesson in what is involved in a search for a kid who may have run away or been kidnapped or met some disaster that no parent wants to face.

The basic premises of the marriage and the search for the disappearing boy are what makes the movie so interesting but there are one too many cell phone scenes–yes we get it that Russians are as tied to them as Americans and other countries are–snow scenes and, yes, too many sex scenes!

There is a lot of politics in the movie including the USA election in 2012 but the last shot of Zhenya jogging on a treadmill wearing a red sweatsuit emblazed with RUSSIA across the front went right over my head if it means anything.

“Loveless” will be an excellent movie when you can fast-forward the repetitive scenes and photography and slow it down each time–and there are many, yes, even too many—Anton’s house is shown.

Movie Trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6h5GuecUU-Q

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