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Critic Reviews for Return
The writer-director is Liza Johnson, an artist, making her first picture and doing it with considerable grace.
This quiet, naturalistic film has a classical arc and a lingering sting.
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.
Sincerity and restraint can be good things in independent movies, but not when you run the risk of putting the audience to sleep...
With its modest scale and sharp observations, writer-director Liza Johnson's first feature has the quiet impact of a short story.
You admire these characters for their considerable resilience while understanding that even the best-intentioned people can break under the stress.
Audience Reviews for Return
This was the longest hour and a half of my life. Mostly because I tried to watch it last night, got half way through, fell asleep, watched another chunk of it while drinking coffee this morning, and then finished the movie after I got back from classes. Let's just say I wasn't exactly on the edge of my seat during this one. Which sucks, because the story is interesting enough, Linda Cardellini and Michael Shannon are quite good, and there is a lot of potential here. The big thing that is missing from this is conflict. There is none. There is one scene of real conflict that doesn't happen until there is about 45 minutes left in the movie. And there is so much POTENTIAL for conflict. Him sleeping with the girl from the car dealership (which is never really answered) Her getting a DUI (which I didn't even get until she said she got one, I just thought she was falling asleep driving), Her trying to get pregnant so she doesn't have to go back (Shit there's an entire movie in that alone.) And it goes on. See what I mean? So much could have been done, but instead we had an hour and half of a woman wandering through her life. Which, yes I get that was kind of the point. But in the end, I wanted more.
"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.
Linda Cardellini is fantastic as Kelli, a woman that returns from a military tour of duty and tries to adjust back to civilian life as wife and mother.
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