Peter Ericson’s review published on Letterboxd :
I purchased "The Return" on DVD in November 2005 without having seen it; I knew, however, that it had gotten great reviews. It wasn’t until recently that I watched this movie. I didn’t take me long to realize that I should not have waited this long to see it.
I really sympathized with Ivan/Vanya, which is played by the talented and remarkable Ivan Dobronravov, and there is one scene in particular that stayed with me: the scene where Ivan is left alone on a bridge and it starts to rain—very powerful. Another wonderful scene is the journey across the lake when they leave the island, near the end of the movie.
I was very saddened to learn that Vladimir Garin (Andrey), the other gifted young actor in this movie, drowned not long after the movie was completed. From an article that mentions the death of Vladimir Garin:
Two months before the [2003 Venice Film Festival], one of the genius teenage actors, a 15-year-old star of the film Vladimir Garin had tragically drowned in the same Ladozhskoye Lake, where the movie had been shot. He drowned the same way it had been described in the screenplay, which had been changed by Mr. Zvyagintsev at the very last moment. […]
However, life apparently would not let the director rewrite the destiny of a teenage actor.
The drawn frame was doomed to become reality.
Seldom does one get to see a movie like "The Return". It has an interesting and compelling story that leaves some questions unanswered, a suggestive mood, amazingly beautiful cinematography, numerous memorable scenes, and the acting is simply perfect. There is something hypnotic about this movie, and it held my attention the whole time and lingered in my mind for a long time afterwards; in fact, I still keep coming back to it from time to time. "The Return" is a true work of art and a subtle masterpiece!