Loveless Alyosha

Film Review: Loveless

In his new film, Loveless, director Andrey Zvyagintsev continues to spotlight weaknesses of Russian society through nuance and understatement. The result is a shattering depiction of a marriage in its last stages and, in particular, the spillover of its toxicity onto a twelve-year-old boy. Zhenya (Maryana Spivak) and Boris (Aleksey Rozin) cannot stand the sight of each other. They are simply ticking off the remaining items on their to-do list: finalize their divorce, sell their jointly held apar[Read more]
L'Avventura Looking

Film Appreciation: L’Avventura

The major premise behind Thinking Cinema is that film develops as a continuum. Current filmmakers benefit from the accomplishments of those who came before and, in turn, inspire future filmmakers. There is a distinct chance that earlier works may be taken for granted, absent a concerted effort to regularly view and appreciate them. To some extent, I think this process explains the uneven fortunes of Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1960 film, L’Avventura. It premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, wh[Read more]
The Searchers Ethan

Missing Persons: List For Week Ending January 21, 2018

Our films this week all deal with a character who has disappeared. The character may be present at the beginning of the film (Loveless, L'Avventura), be found at some point in the film (The Searchers), or never appear (Winter's Bone). It's a plot device dating from the early days of film and still being used, probably because it continues to work so well. This is not intended as an all-inclusive list. Reader suggestions are welcome. If you know an addition to this list, please write using the co[Read more]
The Post Cast

Film Review: The Post

Steven Spielberg’s The Post is a fast-paced and engaging film, although less than subtle in its message. It recounts a few weeks in summer 1971 when newspapers battled the Nixon White House over the publication of wide-ranging excerpts from the Pentagon Papers. Although The Post generally makes its points in bold italics, its underlying message on the importance of a free press is still quite valid. The Pentagon Papers, taken from a 1967 study of the Vietnam War ordered by then-Secretary of De[Read more]
All The President's Men Typing

Film Appreciation: All The President’s Men

Sometimes it is impossible to duplicate the impact a film has when first released. For generations accustomed to sound films, Al Jolson’s speech from The Jazz Singer (“Wait a minute, wait a minute, you ain’t heard nothing yet!”) does not seem extraordinary. If you are used to today’s CGI, the special effects of Star Wars: A New Hope may not dazzle you. And if you did not live through Watergate, All The President’s Men may just seem like a sharply written political thriller. Alan J. P[Read more]
Classics are still being made

Film Review: Loveless

Film Review: Loveless

In his new film, Loveless, director Andrey Zvyagintsev continues to spotlight weaknesses of Russian society through nuance and understatement. The result is a shattering depiction of a marriage in its last stages and, in particular, the spillover of its toxicity onto a twelve-year-old boy.

Zhenya (Maryana Spivak) and Boris (Aleksey Rozin) cannot stand the sight of each other. They are simply ticking off the remaining items on their to-do list: finalize their divorce, sell their jointly held apartment, and start new lives with other partners.

For Zhenya, this means Anton (Andris Keishs), a rich businessman who represents success in her eyes. Boris will move in with Masha (Marina Vasilyeva), already heavily pregnant with his child.

Neither of them wants custody of their twelve-year-old son Alyosha (Matvey Novikov). They married because Zhenya found herself pregnant with him, but neither particularly cares for the boy. In a devastating scene, Alyosha overhears his parents planning to send him to boarding school until such time as he can be enrolled in the military. A couple of days later, the boy goes missing.

Zhenya does not even notice her son is gone-she learns of his disappearance when the school contacts her about his absences. The police, who are ill equipped to deal with a search, refer Zhenya and Boris to a volunteer group.

At this point, Loveless takes on the air of a procedural. The volunteer group scours abandoned buildings in the area-one, in a nearby forest, is especially creepy-and methodically checks for traces of Alyosha, to no avail. The volunteer group’s diligence stands in sharp contrast to the apathy of Alyosha’s parents.

The performances in this film are nothing short of heartbreaking. At present these cast members are not well known outside of Russia, but they deserve to be.

Thanks to cinematographer Mikhail Krichman (The Return, Leviathan), Loveless is a strikingly handsome film. The score by Evgeniy Galperin and Sacha Galperin complements the visuals quite well.

Zvyagintsev reunited with co-writer Oleg Negin (Elena, Leviathan) for Loveless. The three films are said to be a trilogy about contemporary Russian life. At the same time, there is a universal component to Zvyagintsev’s themes of futility and isolation. His work may not be for everyone but, for those who grasp him, Zvyagintsev is an essential.

Theme: Missing Persons

Related Posts: Film Appreciation: L’Avventura  http://www.thinkingcinema.com/film-appreciation-lavventura/

Missing Persons: List For Week Ending January 21, 2018  http://www.thinkingcinema.com/missing-persons-list-for-week-ending-january-21-2018/

Film Appreciation: L’Avventura

Film Appreciation: L’Avventura

The major premise behind Thinking Cinema is that film develops as a continuum. Current filmmakers benefit from the accomplishments of those who came before and, in turn, inspire future filmmakers. There is a distinct chance that earlier works may be taken for granted, absent a concerted effort to regularly view and appreciate them. To someContinue Reading

Film Review: The Post

Film Review: The Post

Steven Spielberg’s The Post is a fast-paced and engaging film, although less than subtle in its message. It recounts a few weeks in summer 1971 when newspapers battled the Nixon White House over the publication of wide-ranging excerpts from the Pentagon Papers. Although The Post generally makes its points in bold italics, its underlying messageContinue Reading

Film Appreciation: All The President’s Men

Film Appreciation: All The President’s Men

Sometimes it is impossible to duplicate the impact a film has when first released. For generations accustomed to sound films, Al Jolson’s speech from The Jazz Singer (“Wait a minute, wait a minute, you ain’t heard nothing yet!”) does not seem extraordinary. If you are used to today’s CGI, the special effects of Star Wars:Continue Reading

Film Review: Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool

Film Review: Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool

Rule of thumb: film projects that are “in the making” for decades tend to yield mediocre cinema. Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool, the adaptation of Peter Turner’s 1986 memoir about Gloria Grahame, both proves and disproves this rule. The film has palpable chemistry between the two leads, and smart use of musical selections. However,Continue Reading

Film Appreciation: My Week With Marilyn

Film Appreciation: My Week With Marilyn

My Week With Marilyn (2011) has little to distinguish it beyond a strong performance by Michelle Williams in the leading role. This is not from want of trying. Simon Curtis’ film is handsomely produced, with a cast of talented performers in addition to Williams. Yet, somehow, the overall production comes off as a little tooContinue Reading