The Return (2003)

Vladimir Garin, Ivan Dobronravov, Konstantin Lavronenko, Nataliya Vdovina,
Vozvrashchenie is a movie starring Vladimir Garin, Ivan Dobronravov, and Konstantin Lavronenko. In the Russian wilderness, two brothers face a range of new, conflicting emotions when their father - a man they know only through a...
  • 8.0 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Vladimir Moiseenko, Aleksandr Novototskiy-Vlasov, Writer:
  • Andrey Zvyagintsev, Director:
  • Dmitriy Lesnevskiy, Producer:
9 / 10

A beautiful, disturbing modern Russian classic.

Former commercials director Andrei Zvyagintsev's stunning film debut is the ideal antidote to all those twee American coming-of-age flicks. This beautiful and sometimes harrowing tale of two young boys on a road trip with a father who 'dissapeared' twelve years before has a surface simplicity that belies it's deeply complex heart. Or, perhaps it's the other way around? There are shades of 'Martin Guerre' to the story but the director, and his co-screenwriter Vladimir Moiseyenko, have created something quite fresh and unique. A quiet and contemplative journey that ends as enigmatically as it begins. The, unnamed, father (Konstantin Lavronenko) returns after more than a decade to the Russian village where the two boys and their mother ,Natalya Vdovina, (it's never clear whether the couple were ever married) reside. He takes his children on a journey, ostensibly a fishing trip, which appears fraught with minor mishaps ? the car, and later a boat, break down, the fathers wallet is stolen from the boys etc. It's never clear to what degree the father is manipulating these events, or indeed what exactly his motives are. Does he genuinely care about his sons and want to spend the weekend attempting to 'bond' with them? Or is his desire to reach a remote island connected with the abandoned ruins of a house there? Whatever his motivation, dad has a unique line in 'tough love', which tends to manifest itself in a bloody nose or the threat of decapitation with an axe. The two boys, brought up by mother and granny aren't overly eager to be on the receiving end of their 'new' fathers affections, although the older of the two (Vladimir Garin, who tragically died in a drowning accident a fortnight after filming completed) seems to desperately want to believe that his father cares for him. They're suspicious, too, of where he's been for most of their lives yet they're cautious enough to keep their curiosity between themselves. It's not giving anything away to say that, from the outset, you're aware there's not going to be a happy ending to all this. What really impresses about The Return, aside from the beautiful, washed out cinematography and the pitch-perfect performances (the two, non-professional, boys are astoundingly good) is Zvyagintsev's awareness that there is no need to spoon feed all the 'facts' to his audience. The 'why's and the 'where's' are something we can decide for ourselves, as individuals. Zvyagintsev presents us with the bare facts of his tale and leaves the interpretation up to us. There's more to it than this, of course. For all its concentration on the minutiae of this week-long journey the film is absolutely riveting and ravishing to look at. Zvyagintsev leaves it to the viewer to decide whether what they've just seen is a deceptively simple tale or an overwhelmingly complex one. Whichever, it could well be a minor masterpiece.

10 / 10

"The Return" heralded the resurgence of Russian cinema.

After the breakup of Soviet Union its cinema was in absolute doldrums. There was no recovery in sight and once in a while viewers craving for serious Russian cinema quenched their thirst through watching a couple of films like Sergei Bodrov's Prisoners of the mountains,Burnt by the Sun directed by Nikita Mikhalkov.The worldwide success of The Return is the most apt testimony to the fact that innovative film-making will always be welcomed no matter how difficult the market might be. Everything about this film is bathed in an aura of mysticism.Both the director and the cameraman have made real good use of expansive Russian landscape which heightens the film's suspense.This film is a veritable intellectual puzzle for the viewer as it leaves numerous unanswered questions.This is a positive trend as viewers have always been pampered into watching minor details by inexperienced filmmakers. This is a once in a lifetime experience which much be watched with at the end of one's breath attitude.

8 / 10

A Zvyagintsev triumph.

This film is intense with superb direction. Russia is a foreign place to many from the west, but this manages to hit the spot on a global front due to the emotions it invokes and the beauty of the photography.

It haunts the eyes with desolate scenery and some quality acting. It seems the key to Zvyagintsev directional success is its lack of speech and its lingering scenes, the pauses he leaves on each shot allows the audience to relay there own emotions into it and creates empathy with each character. The enigma he allows is simple yet effective.

We see the stereotypical "man of few words" executed brilliantly by the father(Konstantin Lavronenko), the silence is deafening in many scenes, also the children are relayed to us in manor that we can clearly understand. We see the two sides of loss in each child; 'Ivan' has the hatred and 'Andrey' the longing. Yet we see in the final scenes when the boat submerges true loss- death. And the boys face the 'goodbye', the inevitability of death is shown, no matter how hard we try to hang on(the boys dragging the body through physical strain and exhaustion) we have to face the fact we will never see them again. Throughout this whole scene, the shots in which Zvyagintsev leaves the camera lingering over the body of the father, we are given the niavity of a child, we are expecting to come alive even though we have been told he is dead.

I could go on and on, but I think each person takes there own from this film.. and a highly recommended one at that.

8 / 10

The Important Things You Will Never Ever Know

Whats in the BOX???? The most frustrating object in film history. Like the glowing case in "Pulp Fiction"(before someone told you the "soul" theory).

Wasn't til I really thought about why it's so frustrating, and why the name "The Return" is almost ironic, that I felt like I maybe understood the movie, which is disappointing in the best way possible. That is to say what isn't in this movie, is as important as what is, the "lack there of", driving it on as in any mystery, accept the confused bundle of emotions only grows and grows and then...we'll then the disappointment becomes painfully and hauntingly poignant.

It's about two boys, whose father they have never known returns and takes them on a trip, not explaining where he has been, where they are going, or why. He's mysterious, cruel, kind, and all around an enigma. The younger son hates him more and more as the trip goes on, the older more and more willing to please. The tension thick enough to spoon.

It's probably the most honest father/son reunion film, I've ever seen, because it captures along with the torrent of emotions, all that can't be resolved as well.

Hits a lot of raw nerves...if you've ever been in this situation...

"Louis a boat is a boat, the mystery box could be anything...we'll take the box!"-Peter Griffin

8 / 10

A minimalist manifesto

A very interesting experiment of minimalism. The director certainly took his time when making this movie: the pace of the action is very slow. You need patience to watch this movie. Even the music bears the mark of minimalism. All in all, if you have patience to watch it, it is well worth the time. This movie is a real work of art. It manages to achieve something that only a small number of Western movies have: it confers intensity without ever becoming overtly emotional. For this thing alone it would be worth watching. But this movie goes way beyond that. It deals with the value of a father-son bond and how damaging its absence can be. How it can lead to ultimate defiance or even hatred towards the long-missing father. It also shows how people could make the worst decisions when facing the question of what to do to make up for the lost time. From the well-intentioned, yet misguided and misunderstood, love, care and supervision of the father springs every tension, drama and tragedy in the movie. The two brothers, initially quite close to each other, start drifting apart when facing their fathers strange behaviour. One chooses to see past his parent's strange attitude, he strives to achieve a deep bond with his parent, a bond which he has so much missed. The other sees his father as some kind of ruthless tyrant against whom he decides to stand up. The result is some kind of a tough, stoical manhood initiation rite with an unexpected, tragic end.