Andrey Zvyagintsev’s film is a truly deadly portrayal of relationships under pressure.



Bleak moments: Maryana Spivak and Matvey Novikov


From the same team of writer Oleg Negin and writer-director Andrey Zvyagintsev, who gave us Leviathan in 2014, comes another masterpiece that shows Russian life is as unsettling as ever. Leningrad may have smart apartments, new office blocks and a cherishably contemporary lifestyle but, on a personal level, there is still more to learn. Witness Boris (Alexey Rozin) and Zhenya (Maryana Spivak), a couple with a young son living the good life in Leningrad. However, they are going through a divorce and living separate existences. Both have new partners, although their 12-year-son Alyosha (Matvey Novikov) is still with his mother Zhenya, while father Boris has already got his new girlfriend pregnant.


Tied up with getting on with their own lives pending the divorce, neither of them has any time for their son. He feels the battle going on between them and is combative and miserable, perhaps realising that he was never wanted by his parents in the first place. In order to secure a new job, Boris had to be married with a child – hence Alyosha, the loveless child of convenience. His parents would rather put him in an orphanage or send him off to the army. When a devastating event occurs out of the blue, it disrupts all their lives which will never be the same again.


Zyyagintsev paints another bleak picture of life in Russia. Although his two central protagonists, Boris and Zhenya, think that a new life will be the answer to everything, they are really deluding themselves. His actors spare us no comfort and indeed Rozin and Spivak capture exactly the essence of this deeply troubled, loveless relationship.


Already winner of the London Film Festival’s best film award of 2017, and showered with nominations elsewhere, Loveless surely deserves to win an Academy Award. 


Original title: Nelyubov.




Cast: Maryana Spivak, Alexey Rozin, Matvey Novikov, Vladimir Vdovichenkov, Varvara Shmykova, Marina Vasileva.


Dir Andrey Zvyagintsev, Pro Alexander Rodnyansky, Sergey Melkumov and Gleb Fetisov, Screenplay Oleg Negin and Andrey Zvyagintsev, Ph Mikhail Krichman, Pro Des Andrey Ponkratov, Ed Anna Mass, Music Evgueni Galperine and Sasha Galperine, Costumes Anna Bartuli.


Non-Stop Productions/Fetisoff Illusion/Why Not Productions/Senator Film Produktion/Les Films du Fleuve/Arte France Cinéma-Altitude Film Entertainment.

127 mins. Russia/France/Germany/Belgium. 2017. Rel: 9 February 2018. Cert. 15.