The Return (2003)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.  

Original title:  Vozvrashchenie

Russia, 2003.  .   Screenplay by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Golden Globe Awards 2003.  Toronto International Film Festival 2003.

Adolescent brothers growing up in the starkness of a Russian coastal village are bowled over when they come home one day and their mother informs them that their father, whom they haven’t seen since they were infants, has returned. They are hesitant to warm up to this authority figure who has been absent for so long and suddenly expects to be treated with deference, but are willing to go along when he announces that he is taking them on a day trip to go fishing. The trip turns out to be quite a different experience, however, when the father’s stops along the way reveal that he has alternate plans in mind, while the boys’ resentment begins to come to the forefront. Elder brother Andrey is happy to call him Dad and takes the brunt of his abusive discipline with pleasure, but young Ivan thinks it ridiculous that he should suddenly be impressed that an absent parent has decided to take part in his life, and says so. The devastating conclusion is just one of the surprises in this absorbing, beautiful drama; just as unexpected is the natural acting, excellent direction and overall powerful effect of an incredibly memorable film. Sadly, lead star  died in a drowning accident at the age of sixteen not long after shooting was completed.

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