Loveless indeed at the 70th Cannes Film Festival

Recently concluded Cannes Film Festival snubbed two films which left a lingering impression on my mind. I wished the Russian film LOVELESS to get the Best Director’s award and the Tunisian film “The Beauty and the Dogs” to get a jury mention.

Andrey Zvyagintsev’s LOVELESS starts with an almost divorced couple bickering at each other without bothering about their 12 year old son, Alyosha who overhears them and shuts himself in the toilet with tears in his eyes. His whole world crumbles.Then as both the parents go around with their respective paramours who are very well connected with their loved ones, one day, the child is missing. The search mission starts. Zvyagintsev slowly builds up tension and anxiety regarding Alyosha’s fate. And, as the chances of finding him dwindle, his parents gradually grow more human. The cinematographer Mikhail Krichman is consistently stunning whether its in a derelict building or in the vast expanse of a forest with men in red jackets.

This is a film which confronts us with the most unthinkable of calamity and challenges the values of family life. Having children is a moral obligation which has its own rewards. But the nurturing of love needs the right atmosphere for the children which lacks in the current society the director is talking about. Loveless may not be as staggering as his previous film, Leviathan but it has a haunting beauty that leaves us with introspection about the present day society.

The Beauty and the dogs by Tunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania’s opening scene is excellent. Miriam, a 21 year old University student is getting ready in the toilets with her friends for the party she has organised. There is a twinkle in her eye to celebrate life. Her dress has a hole and a friend lends her a body hugging satin dress which is suggestive of promiscuousness in the misogynistic culture of Tunisia. The film depicts that this mindset is so pervasive that a pregnant female police officer calls Miriam a whore. After the rape, Miriam and her new friend Youssef from the party face with many incidences of injustice. Miriam is treated as a criminal, a liar but her friend Youssef with his righteousness is of no help to her. The film is based on a real incident and is undoubtedly worth attention and Miriam steals our heart with a very understated performance but some of the performances by the policemen are stagy. Only Machiavellian society legitimises sexual violence towards women.

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