The Return

2004

The Return

Critics Consensus

A suspenseful but perplexing thriller.

95%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 87

93%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 9,520
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The Return Photos

Movie Info

Russian filmmaker Andrei Zvyagintsev makes his feature-film debut with the bleak psychological drama Vozvrashchenie (The Return). Younger brother Ivan (Ivan Dobronravov) and older brother Andrei (Vladimir Garin) live in a small town with their mother (Natalya Vdovina). One summer, the brothers are surprised by the arrival of their long-lost absent father (Konstantin Lavronenko). Although the boys only know him from an old photograph, he still orders them to accompany him on a fishing trip. The stern father then puts his two sons through a series of endurance tests. Doting Andrei is quick to cooperate, while stubborn Ivan is more reluctant to trust him. Ivan wants to know where he's been and what he's up to. After they travel by boat to a deserted island, the father gets even more mysterious. The Return won the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival in 2003.

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Critic Reviews for The Return

All Critics (87) | Top Critics (35)

  • 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.

    Mar 27, 2013 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Mar 27, 2013 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Mar 27, 2013 | Rating: B- | Full Review…

    Scott Tobias

    AV Club
    Top Critic
  • Beautifully structured and emotionally wrenching.

    Mar 27, 2013 | Full Review…
  • Zvyagintsev gets formidable concentration from his youthful actors, and his storytelling moves with the simplicity -- calm, chiselled, and suggestive -- of a fable.

    Mar 27, 2013 | Full Review…
  • Constructed like an eerie, metaphorical thriller, this tense, riveting character study offers viewers nearly two hours of emotions with a stunning pay-off no one will be expecting.

    Jun 4, 2009

    Deborah Young

    Variety
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Return

  • May 09, 2018
    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.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Mar 13, 2017
    The Russians certainly know how to make beautiful films! Very reminiscent of Tarkovsky. Stunning visuals with beautiful muted blue cinematography. The two young leads are fantastic. I was sad to learn that Vladimir Garin, who played Andrey, passed away on the day the film premiered in Russia. One of the best films of the decade and a must see.
    Emily B Super Reviewer
  • Mar 13, 2017
    The Return is a dark, eerie film set in the outskirts of Northern Russia. When a father candidly returns to his two sons, after 12 years of absence, one meets him with admiration while the other in spite. What Zvyagintsev does great in his directorial debut is build eeriness with sound, even in scenes where nothing is apparently wrong, something feels off. By the end it's not clear how cruel the apparent gangster father was, never fully revealed, but he doesn't feel as evil as the build-up would suggest he is.
    Daniel D Super Reviewer
  • Mar 13, 2017
    A remarkable visual but slightly empty at the end - powerful and emotional, but somewhat empty.
    Jason 123 D Super Reviewer

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