Return (2012)


Critic Consensus: Powered by a compelling central performance by Linda Cardellini, Return offers a painfully compelling look at the emotional struggles faced by war veterans.


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Back from a tour of duty, Kelli (Linda Cardellini) can't wait to rejoin her old life in the Rust Belt town in which she's always lived. She's ready to experience the old feelings of everyday life-the carpet under her bare feet, a cold beer in front of the television, the smell of her baby's head. But slowly, her world comes to feel unfamiliar. Her friends love her but seem preoccupied with trifles. Her children need more focused attention than she can give, and as much as he tries, her husband Mike (Michael Shannon) doesn't understand what she's been through. As Kelli's dislocation ripples through her world, she risks becoming an outsider. When she's thrown back on her own resources Kelli has to struggle to find a new way forward. -- (C) Official Site

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Critic Reviews for Return

All Critics (40) | Top Critics (12)

The writer-director is Liza Johnson, an artist, making her first picture and doing it with considerable grace.

Jun 19, 2013 | Full Review…

This quiet, naturalistic film has a classical arc and a lingering sting.

Feb 13, 2012 | Full Review…

Finally someone has written a really good role for Linda Cardellini -- a big, prickly, demanding role that puts her onscreen in literally every scene -- and it's a thrill to watch her operating at full throttle.

Feb 10, 2012 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Sincerity and restraint can be good things in independent movies, but not when you run the risk of putting the audience to sleep...

Feb 10, 2012 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

With its modest scale and sharp observations, writer-director Liza Johnson's first feature has the quiet impact of a short story.

Feb 9, 2012 | Rating: 3.5/5

You admire these characters for their considerable resilience while understanding that even the best-intentioned people can break under the stress.

Feb 9, 2012 | Rating: 3/5

Audience Reviews for Return

"Return" starts with Kelli(Linda Cardellini) coming home to Ohio after serving overseas in the army for a year. In the meantime, her husband Mike(Michael Shannon), a plumber, has been caring for their daughters who have grown a little in her absence. Otherwise, not much has changed, as her job is the same in a warehouse and she still hangs out with the same friends. And then everything falls apart for Kelli... In trying to dramatize the travails of servicepeople returning home, this movie takes the path of utmost subtlety, eschewing any kind of political statement. But then some times you can have too much nuance, as the movie is coy about what is probably causing Kelli's depression until almost the end.(Since Vietnam, returning servicepeople have had a problem adjusting since they are instantly returned to their civilian lives but that's probably not the case here since Kelli is fine at first.) I do buy that she did not undergo anything specifically traumatic overseas, either. What I don't quite get is what has to happen for Kelli to ask for help or why those around her aren't more understanding. And Linda Cardellini's performance does nothing to help since it varies little, except for the scene where Kelli wants to rip the head off of the person sitting across from her. That allows John Slattery and a surprisingly mellow Michael Shannon to steal the movie out from under her.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer


Understated, impressive performance from Linda Cardellini. Review soon.

Daniel Parsons
Daniel Parsons

Super Reviewer

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