Panorama | Contemporary World Cinema
Once again, modern Russia comes under the knife of master vivisectionist Andrei Zvyagintsev, the writer-director whose Elena (VIFF 11) and Leviathan (VIFF 14) have propelled him to the forefront of Russian filmmaking. The marriage of Boris (Aleksey Rozin) and Zhenya (Maryana Spivak) is in its death throes: both of them have taken new lovers and both are selfishly unaware of the effect their constant battling is having on their 12-year-old son, Alyosha (Matvey Novikov). One day, after overhearing a particularly awful argument that leaves him anguished, the boy disappears. Did he run away? Was he kidnapped? As Boris and Zhenya face bureaucratic lethargy and their own self-centred desires during the chaotic search for their son, Zvyagintsev tightens the noose, creating a film both gripping and frightening in the way it lays bare the contemporary Russian soul—or lack thereof.
"An eerie thriller of hypnotic, mysterious intensity… This is a story of modern Russia whose people are at the mercy of implacable forces, a loveless world like a planet without the full means to support human life, a place where the ordinary need for survival has mutated or upgraded into an unending aspirational demand for status, money, freedom to find an advantageous second marriage which brings a nice apartment, sex, luxury and the social media prerogative of selfies and self-affirmation… Zvyagintsev has produced another masterpiece."—Peter Bradshaw, Guardian
Jury Prize, Cannes 17