October 18, 2017
LFF 2017 Best Film Winner Loveless brings a couple whose son disappears as they are just about to divorce. The feature paints a horrific picture of life in contemporary Russia dotted with Freud’s and Antonioni’s elements.
In Zvyaginstsev’s Wasteland, nature and people are cold. Zhenya, a beautician, and Boris, a salesman, are divorcing and selling their flat in St Petersburg. Both parents have new lovers and in the urge to rebuild their lives they neglect their 12-year-old son, Alyosha. To be honest, Alyosha was neglected since the womb. Zhenya confesses she has never liked her son and thought of an abortion. She gave up because she wanted
to escape her mother, who also didn’t care much for her daughter.
This chain of events led to a “repetition compulsion”, a Freudian concept in which unresolved conflicts continue to generate attempts at solution which do not really work until a genuine solution is found. In Loveless, there is no solution, though. The repetition compulsion gets stuck on the Alyosha’s disappearance.
The desolation and the search for the boy don’t necessarily guide the parents into a road to sacrifice. On the contrary, they are angry that they cannot go on with their plans and they blame each other for the boy’s flight. À la Antonioni in Eclipse (1962), Zvyagintsev composes with the architecture of the city the atmosphere around the couple. Blocks of concrete, leafless and flowerless trees and abandoned buildings arrest the characters. In both films, the characters are disconnected from each other. Every gesture becomes completely artificial and their motivations lose meaning. Nevertheless life must go on.
As far as we think, Loveless is an allegory of the Mother Russia turning its back to its children. Likewise his previous film Leviathan (2014), also awarded at LFF, bureaucracy kills romanticism and idealism. Boris hides from his colleagues and boss he is going through a divorce, as he fears they will condemn him. Since the end of communist regime, the religious policy in Russia exposes many of the ambiguities and uncertainties of Russian society. Loveless has the merit of transforming Russian aspects into universal topics.