(director/writer: Andrey Zvyagintsev; screenwriter: Oleg Negin; cinematographer: Mikhail Krichman; editor: Anna Mass; music: Evgeniy Galperin/Sasha Galperin; cast: Maryana Spivak (Zhenya), Alexey Rozin (Boris), Matvey Novikov (Alyosha), Marina Vasilyeva (Masha), Andris Keishs (Anton), Alexey Fateev (Ivan), Artyom Zhigulin (Kuznetsov); Runtime: 127; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Gleb Fetisov, Sergey Melkumov, Alexander Rodnyansky; Sony Picture Classics; 2017-Russia-in Russian with English subtitles)
A depressing but engrossing Russian blend of a domestic drama and police procedural crime drama.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A depressing but engrossing Russian blend of a domestic drama and police procedural crime drama. It offers a reflection on life in modern-day Russia that has to do with the loss of love among society. It’s from the Putin critic and auteur Andrey Zvyagintsev (“Elena”/”Leviathan“), that’s co-written by Oleg Negin.
Bored on his sales job, the bearded burly Moscow office worker for a corporation run by Christian fundamentalists, Boris (Aleksey Rozin), and his attractive but embittered, vain and nasty salon part-owner wife Zhenya (Maryana Spivak) have a rocky marriage and are heading for a divorce. Each has a lover–her lover is her much older divorced business partner (Andris Keishs), while Boris is involved with the nobody he knocked-up Masha (Marina Vasilyeva). The failed couple argue over their 12-year-old sonAlyosha (Matvey Novikov), who hears them and hides in his room crying. The kid is so upset with both uncaring parents that the next day he runs away from home and his bourgeoisie parents don’t notice it until 2 days later. They call the police and blame each other for his action, while volunteers search for him. Thinking the kid might have gone to Zhenya’s estranged mother, living a few hours away, someone even more sour than her daughter, they arrive there with a lady cop. But this film is more concerned with the responses of the family than in what happens to the missing kid. We must hang on until the end to find out what happens to the kid, as he seems to be merely an afterthought. In this unpleasant but valued personal film, we get to see what Putin’s Russia has become through the plight of this dispirited family.
The smart drama sets a bleak mood, skewering everything about Russia– using gray colors to capture the country’s sadness and compares the family symbollically to how corrupt Russia has become. At Cannes is was awarded the Jury Prize. The Russian Oscar Committee selected it as the film for the Academy Award to present as their Best Foreign Language Film.