Nelyubov (Loveless), portrait of a dehumanised society
Following in the footsteps of Ingmar Bergman, Russian filmmaker Andrey Zvyagintsev presents Nelyubov (Loveless), in Competition – a harsh look at human nature and a society in which the ego has emerged victorious.
It's the story of a couple in the throes of divorce, tearing themselves apart as their young son, the 12 year-old, fair-haired Alyosha, looks on darkly. With each day that passes, the child becomes an increasingly hapless witness to the constant quarreling of his parents, Boris and Zhenya, who are too preoccupied with bringing their marriage to an end to worry about the damage they are doing... until the teenager suddenly vanishes...
Three years after the lavish Leviathan – winner of the Best Screenplay Prize in 2014 and a caustic attack on the gangrenous corruption pervading the Russian political system, Zvyagintsev offers us a finely-honed critique of the depravity of couples – a concern also close to Ingmar Bergman's heart. The shadow of the Swedish master and in particular his Scenes from a Marriage (1973), which Zvyagintsev clearly cites as an influence, hovers over this highly stylised fifth feature film which stands out for its scathing wit, use of light and complex screenplay.
In Leviathan, Zvyagintsev painted the unflattering portrait of a Russian political class beset by wheeling and dealing, corruption and alcoholism. In this tale of banal family crisis and indifference, in which Alyosha is the victim, the director this time takes aim at the brutal world in which we live.
Loveless takes a pitiless look at the intense egoism of a modern society overflowing with information, through which individuals keep their heads down, unwilling to examine their own flaws. The film's screenplay was put together in collaboration with Oleg Negin, a loyal supporter of Zvyagintsev's work, who also worked on three of his previous films: The Banishment (2007), Elena (2011) and Leviathan.