A fabulous modern Russian mood film
- The Return review by RC
Director Andrey Zvyagintsev went on to make Elena (2011) and Leviathan (2014). This, his first feature from 2003, clearly sets out his themes.
Reflective in pace, giving the cast a chance to fully inhabit the characters and reveal the narrative. Excellent cinematography, a simple story explored in depth, posing questions that extend you beyond the narrative.
In this one the two young actors playing the boys are outstanding - possibly the best child acting you will ever see. Tragically Vladimir Garin who plays the older brother died during post-production before the premiere. He was swimming in the same lake where the film was shot when he drowned.
This is modern Russian film making at its best.
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful.
Unforgettable contemporary classic.
- The Return review by TE
This is a great cinematic experience from start to finish. Everything is blended together with careful skill: the characterisation of the brothers and the father; the stunning visual setpiece scenes; the music; the colour palette; the terse dialogue. It all works together magnificently.
The younger brother gives one of the best child performances in movie history.
I saw this when it was released and many images stayed in my mind. Seeing it again has made me realise what a landmark in cinema history this film is.
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.
A hideous Christ figure
- The Return review by PW
It's worth looking at Mantagna's 'Lamentation of Christ (c.1480). This image was almost reproduced twice in the film, first early on when the returned father sleeps to be seen for the first time in 12 years by his sons, later after the twist. At another point a slow image of a boat coming to an island reminded me of a scene on the see of Galilee. The theme of return echoed resurrection but with no warmth or hope.
Andrei Zvyagintsev seems to want to subvert the central hope of Christianity. Yet this bleak, yet sumptuous film somehow avoided leaving the viewer devoid of hope. The mental battle between the father and his youngest son (us?) left me with hope in the human spirit.
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.