The Return (2004)
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Critic Reviews for The Return
The story, set in contemporary Russia, seems unexceptional at the start. Yet it plays out against a vast wilderness of shorelines and lakes, and turns tantalizing ambiguity into urgent mystery.
The long and eventful fishing trip Dad drags the boys on is simultaneously a very real voyage through the Russian wilderness and also, like, a Jungian trip, man.
Throughout his expertly controlled film, Zvyagintsev never allows a break in the clouds to provide some reassuring sign that the brothers are on solid footing.
Zvyagintsev gets formidable concentration from his youthful actors, and his storytelling moves with the simplicity -- calm, chiselled, and suggestive -- of a fable.
Audience Reviews for The Return
It has the stunning, bleak and oppressive beauty found in Andrei Tarkovsky's films, with a cold and blueish cinematography that offers no relief from the underlying tension that is basically omnipresent, and it benefits especially from three excellent central performances.
This family trip moving in a thrilling manner is quiet captivating for what it is, but then somehow I'd got the notion that the genius was going to end it leaving behind pieces for us to put together..... and that didn't suit my taste. Disappointing for what it gives away, but entertaining for what it maintains: the thrill. Wish the mysterious touch was as satisfying as the thrill. Yet, it's still worth a watch IMO. And I've a feeling that you're less bound to be disappointed by the genius touch that disappointed me. P.S. If you feel that the above comment includes any spoiler, kindly note that it's absolutely unintentional. Find one at your own risk and pleasure.
A dark, unsettling look at two boys who struggle to come to grips with their father's (Konstantin Lavronenko) sudden return to their family after a 12 year absence, and how he takes them on a camping trip that turns into a test of each one's masculinity. Although the amount of ambiguity the film contains tends to be a little annoying at the conclusion given the film's unwillingness to give really any answers, director Andrei Zvyagintsev's point is clearly to have you as confused as the boys who are being mentally tortured by their father. Throw in a sudden, shocking twist 3/4 of the way through that is impossible to see coming, some beautiful still photography, and the fact that the actor who plays the older boy (Vladimir Garin) died a day before the film's release due to a similar accident that takes place in the film, it is a very memorable, unmistakably powerful little movie. Not for all tastes to be sure, as this is an art-house film inside and out, but a watchable one.
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