Nominated three years ago for Leviathan, director Andrey Zvyagintsev is back with another bleak portrayal about unhappy parents and an unhappy son. I’d be curious to know what Zvyagintsev’s parents think of his oeuvre. The winner of the London Film Festival, Loveless has been much-praised by critics. I understand, because it’s well-made on all levels. However, it is just too bleak for my taste.

Boris and Zhenya are in the throes of an ugly divorce. Even though they have both found new partners, they still share an apartment. The victim of this extreme discord is their 12-year-old son, Alyosha. After overhearing a particularly violent argument and realizing that he is the product of an unplanned pregnancy, Alyosha disappears. Boris and Zhenya are forced to work together to locate their son, but instead of bringing them closer, it serves as yet another reason to hate each other. The police are too overwhelmed with other matters to be helpful, so the parents turn to a truly admirable nonprofit organization that specializes in searching for missing children. These well-organized volunteers contrast with the materialism and selfishness we are shown in the new Russia.