It tells the story of two Russian boys whose father suddenly returns home after a 12-year absence. He takes the boys on a holiday to a remote island on a lake that turns into a test of manhood of almost mythic proportions. It won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.
Letterboxd Festival 8
Andrey Zvyagintsev’s The Return is an enigmatic coming-of-age drama about two brothers and the return of their estranged father. Absent for 12-years, the father is little more than a stranger but the brothers have very different reactions to his unexpected reappearance. Whereas the eldest welcomes his new role model, wanting to please and be just like him, the youngest brother is mistrusting and resentful both of his absence and his questionable style of parenting.
Shot in cool blues and greys, the film is oppressive yet beautiful. The stillness of the camera allows you to take in every detail whilst the deliberate pacing heightens the film’s palpable tension and sense of impending doom. The relationship between the trio…
30 Countries, 30 Days.
Time Period: present
Theme: Fathers and Sons, the demand for respect without earning it
Style of Subtitle: Soft white. The subtitles annoying came on screen about a half second after person spoke, sometimes words from previous line were still on screen while another character began speaking. Very distracting.
Funniest / Oddest Subtitle: "Squirt", "No, <you guys> got the wrong place!"
What did I learn about the country: There's rickety tall structures to climb
Coincidental relation to last country I watched: A contrast - Romania has one of the lowest divorce rates, Russia has the highest.
I heard there's an American remake planned: Starring Russell Crowe and two of the kids from Tree…
As much as I was surprised by my last dabble in Russian cinema, the haunting and absolutely splendid How I Ended This Summer, I was disappointed and frustrated by The Return in almost equal amounts.
This tale of two young brothers who end up on an unexpected and unpredictable voyage through the Russian wilderness by a father who turns up on their doorstep unannounced 12 years after he disappeared from their lives is, to the surprise of absolutely nobody, a slow-burner. That part is what I was more than prepared for and I actually welcome such an approach. Slow films are absolutely…
I have a feeling that quite soon Andrey Zvyagintsev is going to make an unbelievably stunning film. He seems to be so close, slowly inching he way towards a masterpiece.
The Return just might be the closest he has come (I have yet to see The Banishment). For almost the entire duration Zvyagintsev gives the viewer the impression that Andrey and Ivan's father might not be who you think he is, or that he has sinister ulterior motives. The tension he is able to create is quite remarkable, plus the cinematography is stunning - kudos to Mikhail Krichman (I just realized I'll being seeing his work in Silent Souls).
Not only do you have stunning cinematography, a well-constructed, well-paced story, but on top of all that...you also have two perfectly composed performances from Vladimir Garin (Andrey) and Ivan Dobronravov (Ivan) displaying natural (so natural it's almost unnatural) brotherly chemistry.
There are some films that are open-ended with unresolved plot elements that I still think are great. The Return isn't one of them. It's the story of two brothers whose absentee father shows up one day. They know almost nothing about this humorless and fairly quiet man, but he takes them on a trip to go fishing.
As they find out his gruff seemingly uncaring parenting style, he takes them on some unexplained detours. We never find out why- if it has something to do with his occupation or what. There are no expositional conversations between the father and any other adults, and he never tells the boys anything about himself. So it is not surprising that Ivan, the younger…
"Vozvrashchenie" is like real life. We assume the perspective of the sons and, treating us like such, the movie does not supply any meaningful answers to the events depicted. The events are meant to happen just like that, without any prior warning. Such things were meant to remain unknown. What we are offered is a breathtaking journey deep into the Russian wilderness, filmed as masterfully as few auteurs accomplish today, displaying poetry on screen like if it was the easiest thing to do.
Maybe the most visually spectacular film I've ever seen. Plus it's got, in the words of the director, "actors of genius."
Few films pack a punch as powerful as this one. What starts out as a conventional trip through the Russian wilderness ends up completely emotionally devastating. The father of two boys unexpectedly returns after 12 years and takes them on a fishing trip - to bond with them and turn them into men. Along the way, tensions mount to an inevitable fate. The performances are all superb, but those of the boys are truly outstanding - completely natural and involving. It is beautifully shot, using carefully composed and largely symmetrical shots and what appears to be a bleach bypass filter to create an atmosphere dominated by cool blues and greys. To wrap everything up with the fact that this is a debut film is also quite amazing.
Plötzlich ist der Vater wieder da. Nach Zwölf Jahren der Abwesenheit ist er zurückgekehrt, einfach so. Während der ältere Bruder froh über die Wiedervereinigung ist und seinem Vater blind gehorcht, ist der Jüngere, ob der unerwarteten Wiederkehr, skeptisch. Er zweifelt die Vaterschaft offen an, fragt sich, warum der Vater nach all den Jahren zurückkehrt und das gerade zu diesem Zeitpunkt.
Alle Versuche, dem Vater näher zu kommen, scheinen zu scheitern. Der Vater bleibt streng und will als Autorität wahrgenommen werden. Er verteilt kleinere Aufgaben und rügt seine Söhne bei den kleinsten Vergehen.
Als der Vater die beiden auf einen zweitägigen Angelausflug auf eine kleine einsame Insel im russischen Norden mitnimmt, eskaliert die angespannte Situation.
Völlig unaufgeregt erzählt Andrej Swjaginzew hier…
one of the most beautiful films I'v ever watched, powerful and inspiring.
Evocative filmmaking, minimalist in approach yet mythic in proportion thanks to the emotional resonance that director Andrey Zvyagintsev (yep, had to look that up to spell it, don’t judge me) manages to tap into. His naturalistic actors’ performances and the bare assortment of sets and locations goes a long way. A smart play for any debut filmmaker, but the atmospheric visuals and beautiful landscapes gives the film a distinct sense of unreality that heightens the central conflict and makes it feel like the most important thing in the world while you’re watching it; it may as well take place on Mars, because it’s the people Zvyagintsev is focused on, not any particular setting, and it shows. The story, simple as…
Ivan the terrible attitude
Despite a serious lack of character development on the father's part, this is a great film anchored by the two brothers' fantastic performances and a somber production design that is employed wonderfully throughout (especially through the use of rainstorms, which seem to follow the dreary individuals wherever they go).
Half myth, half road movie, one of the most powerful coming-of-age narratives ever to reach the movie screen.