Rachel Kushner

Paul Schrader, First Reformed, 2017, 2K video, color, sound, 108 minutes. Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke).

PAUL SCHRADER’S First Reformed and Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless both feature pretty and guileless young blond women whose bellies swell with new life and who deliver babies, before the end of each film, into worlds that are maps of devastation—though the type of devastation varies slightly, as does the map.

Loveless takes place in suburban Moscow, where its miserable bourgeois characters live in symptomatic lack, as the title suggests. A divorcing couple bicker over how best to dissolve their life so they can go their separate ways. It’s late autumn, and, as a voice from a radio news program casually announces, the shortening days, combined with a prediction that the apocalypse is coming, have resulted in an uptick in depression. People in this film constantly gaze out of windows, seen from outside, and the incipiently wintry scenes that they observe, beyond fogged and frozen

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