Andrei Zvyagintsev’s film “Dislike” at the shooting stage was called “Battlefield”. But the final version characterizes the picture in more detail: the battlefield still has some kind of limiter. Dislike doesn’t have it. Dislike is an all-encompassing hell, against which the mutual hatred of war flares up. The film, released in 2017, is a nominee and winner of many famous film festivals. Its value, of course, is not in prizes – in insight. Or in the hope of a possible epiphany.
What is the film Dislike 2017 about
Sales manager Boris and the administrator of the beauty salon Evgenia have been irritating each other for a long time and tightly. Boris has a pregnant girlfriend, Masha, and Zhenya often stays overnight with her lover Anton. The only thing that still connects this couple is a common apartment and a son, 12-year-old Alyosha. The joint apartment, of course, will be sold, but the parents did not decide what to do with Alyosha after the divorce: each “transfers” the child to the other.
The child hears another quarrel of the parents, freezing in a silent scream. He understands that there was no place for him, their son, in the new life of mom and dad. Alyosha leaves home, as it turns out in the future, forever. This event remains unnoticed for a long time for parents – everyone is busy with their personal lives. A day later, Alyosha’s class teacher calls Zhenya and says that the boy of the day was not at school.
The second half of the film is devoted to the search for the child. The police and the investigator react rather sluggishly. Boris and Zhenya contact the coordinator of the search and rescue team, who recommends going to the boy’s grandmother (Zhenya’s mother). It turns out that the mother and daughter have a difficult relationship: they have not seen each other for 3 years and do not burn with the desire to meet. The arrival turns into a scandal: the woman believes that her daughter and son-in-law want to pity her with the disappearance of her grandson, in order to “hang” the child on her after the divorce. The search coordinator connects volunteers, communicates with Alyosha’s friends. The result of the search is an invitation to the parents to the morgue for identification of the found corpse. Zhenya frenziedly repeats: “It’s not him! It’s not him! ”, Boris is crying for the first time in the entire period of events.
After 2 years, Boris lives with his new wife, mother-in-law and young son. Zhenya moved to Anton’s luxurious apartments. The question of finding Alyosha remains open.
The meaning of the film Dislike 2017
The banality of a marital quarrel dilutes the shot of a child holding back sobs. The open mouth, contorted with horror, is reminiscent of Munch’s painting The Scream. Perhaps this is the most poignant moment of the film, which is the point of no return, sweeping away everything in its path. The childish pain of a silent cry here is an analogy of hell, a black abyss of universal dislike.
First thought: parents are real monsters, obsessed with themselves and their comfort. But over the course of the film, it becomes clear that Boris and Zhenya are simply not capable of anything more than what they gave to each other and to their common son. It seems to Boris that the new wife is a safe haven for life, but both Masha and her mother are a repetition of previous relationships. Even the definition of the first mother-in-law “Stalin in a skirt” is more suitable for the second mother-in-law. Evgenia confesses her love to the successful and wealthy Anton. At what the first, present, sincere. A woman does not realize the illusory nature of her own feelings, running away from children’s complexes all her conscious life. That number of sharp, angry words that Zhenya receives from her mother, that coldness that her mother accepts in return, is the key to the door with the inscription “dislike”.
Unloved children have grown into lost, indifferent adults. And the symbolic surname of the family (Sleptsovs) speaks for itself: they do not know what they are doing, and therefore they are so hopelessly unloved. Parents do not fully understand what happened in their family. In search of solutions to external problems, they prefer not to notice the internal ones. In the picture, this is shown by the ironic smirk of the volunteer coordinator, when he received vague answers from his parents to his questions about the child: “I don’t think I had any friends”, “I didn’t seem to be interested in anything.”
Indifference emanates from almost every character. And fear: before juvenile justice, bosses, the state. But not in front of your own conscience. And Alyosha’s parents, and his grandmother, and Masha with her mother, and Anton – all of them, like the blind from Brueghel’s painting, go through life by touch, not noticing the main thing, forgetting about the essence of things. Passivity and non-interference breed evil. Dislike provokes war in the hearts of people, which is what the director shows by cutting television news about Donbass.
The meaning of the final Dislike 2017
It is not known what happened to Alyosha, but the fate of the parents is clear. The apartment is sold – now I’m doing repairs in it. Boris, clenching his teeth, nurses the already bored child together with Masha. Evgenia lives in a respectable apartment of the successful Anton. Former spouses each watch military reports from the Donbass on their TV. Both have a heavy, haunted look.
It seems that this whole war is far from the prosperous heroes of the film, but both Boris and Evgenia feel its echoes. War is, above all, the absence of love. The Sleptsovs wage their own spiritual war every day. But without internal changes, no matter how you fight, losing is inevitable.