The Return

"Very Good"

The Return Review


There are films that go easy on the dialogue because they just don't have a lot to say: set a camera up in front of an actress who looks good pouting in existential ennui, throw something classy on the soundtrack and just hope it all works out. Then there are the films that have plenty to say, spend even longer than they need to say it, and you wish they would just shut up already. Andrei Zvyagintsev's 2003 festival hit The Return is a film without a lot of dialogue or story, and wonderfully so: More words and action would have spoiled it.

Two young boys, Andrey (Vladimir Garin) and Ivan (Ivan Dobronravov), live with their mother and grandmother, the only memory of their father a single photograph of the man they've never seen. After a seemingly innocuous incident when Ivan, the younger brother, refuses to jump off a high tower into the water and is later scapegoated by weak-spined Andrey and their friends (the importance of this only becomes apparent at the shocking climax), their mother announces that their father (Konstantin Lavronenko) has returned. He's a gray-haired question mark with a sour puss and a slight air of danger; no information is given about where he's been, or why he's back.

After an uncomfortable dinner (this is not a family of big talkers) in which the father orders that each of the boys be given a glass of wine, they find out he's going to take them on a two-day fishing trip the next day; the information leaves the boys, suddenly given a father, barely able to sleep for the excitement. Once they hit the road, though, things start getting creepy when it becomes apparent they're going to be gone for much longer than two days. The father appears to be on some strange mission that only he is clued in to, driving them further and further into rural Russia: All the boys know is that he has a lot of money in his wallet and won't tell them who he's talking to on the phone. Ivan's pouty stubbornness gets him in trouble, with the taciturn father all too eager to teach him lessons about obedience, leaving him stranded for hours in the rain just to prove a point.

By the time they arrive at their destination, the mystery is still unsolved, any explanation of the journey being dangled just out of reach by the filmmakers, and the tension between Ivan and the father ratcheting higher and higher. The film ends with a stunning death in the middle of nowhere, but even that doesn't clue you in to the riddle at the core of this bleached, ruminative story. The characters aren't much help, either, with the father given to gnomic pronouncements and the brothers alternating between stoicism and mostly nonverbal frustration.

The Return unfolds at such a calm pace that odd things take on enormous importance, but the director and writers are still able to avoid attaching weighty symbolism to everyday objects. The simplicity of the story and the sad beauty of its lengthy Russian landscapes, desaturated colors and mournful winds, are actually enough to keep viewers engaged without burdening the film with unwarranted pretensions and extraneous dialogue. The Return may not be more than the sum of its parts, but that's quite enough. Three leave, two come back, and what happens in between is a thing of odd beauty.

Aka Vozvrashcheniye.

No turning back now.



The Return

Facts and Figures

Run time: 105 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 25th June 2003

Budget: $15M

Distributed by: Sally Head Productions

Production compaines: Rogue Pictures, Intrepid Pictures, Raygun Productions, Biscayne Pictures, Rosey Film Productions LLC

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

IMDB: 8.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Andrei Zvyagintsev

Starring: as Kurt, as Michelle, as Joanna Mills, Peter O'Brien as Terry Stahl, as Ed Mills, Wally Welch as Snack Stand Vendor, Brad Leland as Mr. Marlin, Darrian McClanahan as Young Joanna Mills, Erinn Allison as Annie, Robert Wilson as Billy, J.C. MacKenzie as Griff, Frank Ertl as Ambrose Miller, Brent Smiga as Higgins, Angela Rawna as Doctor, Bonnie Gallup as Bella, Peyton Hayslip as Laraine, Ben Hamby as Extra, Erica Jones as Additional voices, Glori Renee Euwer as Nurse, Peter Cornwell as Tavern Cowboy

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Advertisement
Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

xXx: Return of Xander Cage Movie Review

xXx: Return of Xander Cage Movie Review

It's been 15 years since Vin Diesel walked away from his XXX role, killing off...

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

This may not be the cheeriest movie of the season, but it's so skilfully written,...

Live By Night Movie Review

Live By Night Movie Review

Ben Affleck launched his directing career 10 years ago with his film of Dennis Lehane's...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.