Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
Original title: Nelyubov
Russia/France/Germany/Belgium, 2017. Non-Stop Productions, Fetisoff Illusion, Why Not Productions, Senator Film Produktion, Les Films Du Fleuve, Arte France Cinema. Screenplay by Oleg Negin, Andrey Zvyagintsev. Cinematography by Mikhail Krichman. Produced by Gleb Fetisov, Sergey Melkumov, Alexander Rodnyansky. Music by Evgueni Galperine, Sacha Galperine. Production Design by Andrey Ponkratov. Film Editing by Anna Mass. Academy Awards 2017. Cannes Film Festival 2017. Golden Globe Awards 2017. Independent Spirit Awards 2017. National Board of Review Awards 2017. Toronto International Film Festival 2017.
A couple who are divorcing and are awaiting the sale of their Moscow apartment fight with each other on a regular basis, not the least bit aware that their heartbroken son crumbles under the weight of their unashamed bitterness. After both members of the couple spend the night with their lovers, thinking the other is home, they discover the next day that their son has gone missing. Two people who explode angrily every time they are together now have to team up to figure out where the boy could have gone or, even worse, what could have happened to him. The authorities get involved and do thorough searches of the woods and interview the kid’s friends, while the parents are forced to go on a road trip to visit her mother (the film’s best scene), each possibility resulting in no answers and increasing fears of what could have happened to him. A plot that sets up some great opportunities, a dark comedy of remarriage, for example, or a thriller with the depth of human emotional pain, is instead a boring polemic on the destructive nature of smartphones (get OVER it, people), with director Andrey Zvyagintsev so dead set upon judging his characters that the whole thing is stale and obsessed with symbolism instead of drama. A few moments stand out, the closeup of the boy reacting to his parents fighting at the beginning is devastating, and Maryana Spivak‘s excellent performance finds its highest achievement in the morgue scene at the end.