Loveless ★★★½

61/100

A.V. Club review. Thought Zvyagintsev was doing something extraordinary here, and somehow wound up feeling a lot of residual "affection" (wrong word, it's late) even after it became clear that I'd jumped to entirely the wrong conclusion. In my imagined masterpiece, the kid's unexplained disappearance is metaphorical rather than literal—I was sure that the abrupt POV shift to the parents and their respective lovers constituted a bold, pointed use of negative character space, for lack of a better term. Yet I didn't turn against the film when its true shape was revealed, mostly because the subsequent search efforts see mom and dad reveal the depths of their innate love for their child (despite early evidence and even outright protestations to the contrary) even as they remain mostly destestable. Bracing stuff. At its best, Loveless suggests what the Romanian New Wave might look like with a more expressionistic aesthetic offsetting the performative grubbiness. At its worst, it indulges some really painful state-of-the-nation symbolism (explained to me by a Russian dude on Twitter after I expressed puzzlement about why the film is set primarily in 2012 and keeps mentioning Ukraine). For whatever reason, my brain chose to accentuate the positive. I tried to turn against the film and failed.