The Return

2003

Drama

148
IMDb Rating 8 10 39,649

Synopsis


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May 28, 2020

Cast

720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1013.29 MB
1280*720
Russian 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
110 min
P/S N/A / N/A
2.03 GB
1920×1080
Russian 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
110 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by howard.schumann 9 / 10 / 10

A film of rare beauty and authenticity

In Russian director Andrey Zvyaginstev's The Return, a father (Konstantin Lavronenko) revisits his family after an unexplained absence of twelve years to take his teenage sons on a fishing trip. Winner of the grand prize at the Venice Film Festival, The Return is a film of rare beauty and authenticity about the complex bonds between a father and his two sons and the need to discover one's self. First time director Zvyaginstev leaves much unexplained and the film, while a simple story on the surface, has suggestions of Greek mythology, political allegory, and religious parable. The film takes place in seven days, separated into segments. The two boys, Andrei (Vladimir Garin), who is about 13, and Vanya (Ivan Dobronravov), a year or two younger, are very different but have become attached to each other as a result of their father's absence. As the film opens, Vanya is being taunted by a group of friends and called "chicken" because he is afraid to climb up a huge tower and dive from a pier. When the boys return home, they are astonished to discover their father sleeping on a bed as if posing for a religious painting of the dead Christ. At dinner, the father (who is not named) is cold and uncommunicative except to tell the boys that they will go fishing the next morning and to pass out wine to everyone. To confirm their father's identity, the boys find an old photograph of their father in a Bible adjacent to a drawing of the scene of Abraham about to sacrifice his son Isaac. As they drive through the brooding, isolated Russian countryside on their way to a rendezvous at a remote island, the boys confront their most longed for expectations and also their most dreaded fears. Andrei openly seeks his father's approval but Vanya is rebellious, convinced that he is being kidnapped by a gangster. It is clear that the boys need their father but are baffled by his tough love. On one occasion, the father makes Vanya get out of the car in a heavy rainstorm then drives off only to pick him up soaking wet a short time later. When the boys fail to return from fishing on time, he slaps Andrei so hard that Vanya steals his knife and threatens to kill him. Though the mood is ominous, the father's motives remain unclear. The puzzle is deepened when he uncovers a strong box dug up from the floor of an old ruined house on the island. Is this the payoff from a criminal activity? Is it a treasure the father had buried to give to his sons? One can only speculate. In spite of their anxiety, the boys seem to grow under their father's tutelage and, when Vanya must climb a tower once again, it is clear how far he has come in his journey to adulthood. His father's inability to reach his sons on an emotional level, however, is the ingredient for a tragedy that takes the film to an unexpected conclusion. The director has said that the film is about "the metaphysical incarnation of the soul's movement from the Mother to the Father." I'm not sure exactly what that means but the film taps into the universal need to love and be cared for, and the hurt that results when the need to be sustained and protected is thwarted. The film rekindled sad memories for me of what it felt like to be a child trying to reach a cold and distant father. Together with knowing that the young actor who played Andrei died in a swimming accident after the film was completed, made The Return a moving and painful experience.

Reviewed by Buddy-51 9 / 10 / 10

one of the best movies of the decade

"The Return," a breathtakingly austere masterpiece from the land that gave us Eisenstein, Pudovkin and Tarkovsky, is one of the most beautifully acted and directed films I have seen in years. Astonishingly enough, this is the feature film debut for director Andrei Zvyagintsev who demonstrates more of a mastery and command of the medium in this his maiden effort than most directors do in a whole body of work. The film tells the tale of two brothers, Ivan and Andrei, who live with their mother and grandmother in a small coastal village in Russia. One day, totally unexpectedly, the boys' father returns after a twelve-year absence. In an effort to make up for lost time, the dad decides to take his sons on a fishing trip, but, almost immediately, he begins to demonstrate disturbing tendencies towards domination and abuse. He also appears to be up to some sort of nefarious business operations to which neither we nor the boys are entirely privy. Every single moment of this film is a revelation. Zvyagintsev beautifully captures the opposite ways in which the boys react to and interact with their father. Andrei, the oldest, is so desperate for a father figure in his life that he is willing to overlook the often inexplicable, bizarre and possibly even dangerous behavior that this particular father exhibits. Ivan, on the other hand, embittered by years of absence and neglect, seethes with barely disguised rage at the man who now presumes to enter into their once happy lives and assert his authority. Of the two boys, he seems the most tuned into the kind of threat the father may pose to their welfare. Yet, towards the end of the story, the apparently latent love the boy feels for this man as his father does eventually rise to the surface. Through this intense interaction, the film emerges as a complex and profound study of what father and son relationships are really all about. It is virtually impossible to put into words just how brilliantly the two young actors use their facial expressions to convey a wealth of meaning and emotion. As portrayed by Vladimir Garin, Andrey looks up to his father with a mixture of boyish pride and trembling awe, longing for the kind of male affirmation he has been deprived of all these years. He is desperate to please his father by proving to him that he can perform the acts of manhood that his dad keeps putting forth for him to do. As Ivan, Ivan Dobronravov spends most of his time glaring at the man, his mouth pursed in a tight unyielding grimace of resentment and hate. If I could give an award for the best performance by a child actor in movie history, these two youngsters would be high on my list of candidates. They are that amazing. Tragically, young Garin drowned two months prior to the release of the film, leaving his indelible mark behind in a performance that will never be forgotten by anyone privileged enough to witness it. Konstantin Lavronenko is equally impressive as the boy's mysterious father, beautifully underplaying the part of a man who can appear sane and rational on the surface but who is a seething cauldron of untapped emotions beneath. In fact, it is this constant threat of violence always on the verge of eruption that keeps us off balance and on edge throughout the entire picture. The film's writers, Vladimir Moiseyenko and Aleksandr Novotosky, deserve special recognition for not allowing the plot to overwhelm the characters. For this is, first and foremost, a great character study. The scenarists have intentionally left the background of the father vague and sketchy, the better to enhance the sense of mystery and danger he represents. We never find out what nefarious activities he is involved with since that is of virtually no importance either to the children or to us. We are too engrossed in the relationships of the characters to care. In fact, there are a few hints towards the end of the film that this seemingly cold, uncaring man, for all his myriad faults, might actually just love his sons in his own strange way. The film leaves us with no easy answers or pat resolutions at the end. And this is how it should be. In fact, the scriptwriters even throw a few of Hitchcock's prized "MacGuffins" into the mix to keep us off balance (there is a scene in which some possibly stolen money sinks to the bottom of a lake that is highly reminiscent of what happens in "Psycho").. Among other things, "The Return" represents one of the most impressive directorial debuts since Francois Truffaut's "The 400 Blows." Zvyagintsev's ability to draw great performances from his actors is only one of his many talents on display here. His lyrical use of composition, as well as the way in which he makes nature and weather an integral part of his drama help to draw us so deeply into this world that it takes the viewer literally hours to get fully back to his own existence again once the movie has ended. It reverberates for days afterwards. For as with any great film, "The Return" finds its way into the depths of one's soul and leaves the viewer a richer person for the experience. Winner of the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival (2003), "The Return" is a true work of art and one of the outstanding films of the decade so far. Whatever you do, don't miss this film.

Reviewed by pachl 9 / 10 / 10

A movie I can't forget...

It amazing how many people have written comments about this movie, and surprising how lengthy their reviews are. Huge Hollywood blockbusters don't generate this kind of passion. I don't know why this movie works so well, but it does. After the opening scenes, I was a bit concerned it might turn out to be a plodding, slow-paced film, but the plot keeps gathering steam and captures your interest. In this sense, it reminds me of Donna Tartt's brilliant book, "A Secret History", whose the plot is difficult to describe in terms that sound interesting or exciting, but believe me, it's a book that keeps you awake at night because you can't bear to put it down and wait another day to find out what happens next. The movie's genius is in the way it keeps you guessing about the real identity of the father. It this man really their father? Is he planning to help them? Is he sincerely trying to get to know them, or is he a cold-hearted thug who plans on killing them once they are no longer of any use to him? When the movie ends, you can't be absolutely sure. Just like "All About Eve" (Bette Davis), this movie has a rare sophistication. The characters might feel love and hate towards someone at the same time. In "The Return", the emotional complexity of the father/son relationship grabs your interest, then couples this with the mystery surrounding the father and his intentions. If you avoid foreign films because you think they are slow and boring (and in truth, many of them in the 1970s and 1980s were boring), this one will pleasantly surprise you. It's certainly not some "action flick", but you won't be bored; you'll be transfixed. EDIT: February 9, 2008. It has been about three years since I posted this. So far, I have no indication anyone has ever read it, so if you do, please vote whether the review was helpful or not. Thanks.

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