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I wanted to discuss the suffering of humanity in general, but perhaps we’d better confine ourselves to the sufferings of children.

[Fyodor Dostoevsky]

A merciless and cold demonstration of the potency of Russian cinema, Loveless swerves into an unapologetic depiction of adults behaving like children and the children that get lost in the wake of parental neglect—”a heartbreaking piece of work, an examination of a young life falling through the cracks of a selfish world.”

A master-class in tempo and cinematography (Mikhail Krichman), after the writing fiasco in Leviathan, Andrey Zvyagintsev has restored my faith in his ability to craft a Russian masterpiece. Dark and unassuming, Loveless is the domestic spirit of Tarkovsky’s Stalker, moving without the pretension of Hollywood’s optimism into a radioactive area of profound measure, depicting human falleness as a metaphor for state dissolution. As Jeannette Catsoulis  (NY Times) writes:

Boris and Zhenya may have behaved despicably, but their spiritual rot doesn’t exist in a vacuum. When the state loses its humanity, Mr. Zvyagintsev seems to be asking, how long can its citizens hold on to theirs?

Here, is a film about unwanted children. A film about moments of putative regret when those children, sensing a feeling of being unwanted, leave their homes desiring the nature of neutrality. And, about the unwavering brutality of time and its insipid worldly continuation when we become uninspired to carry forward. Take the opposite of Tully, shove it into the setting of Annihilation, and here you have a faint glimmer of what Loveless has to offer. Brian Tallerico (Roger Ebert) hit on something close when he wrote that “[t]his is a tough film, but it might also be a great one.” In reality, I consider this to be among the best films about the decay of marriage and the perils of sexual license.

Without saying too much, Loveless was undoubtedly the best foreign film nominated last year by The Academy (as I suspected it would be) and should have readily won had its topic been closer to the political preference of Hollywood’s sunshine state.


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