The Return (Vozvrashcheniye) (2003) (Russia)
Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev
Cast: Vladimir Garin, Ivan Dobronravov, Konstantin Lavronenko
In the Venice Film Festival 2003, it won the Golden Lion Award and 'CinemAvvenire' Award for Best First Film .
In the European Film Awards 2003, it garnered the European Discovery of the Year .
It was also Russias submission to Oscar in 2004.
The official English website is here
What I like
-- The film is very excellent because it could be interpreted at multiple layers
(i) At the most basic, it is simply about the relationship between a father and his two sons For a father that they have never seen, should they embrace or suspect him? Should he prove himself to them or should they prove themselves to him?
(ii) At another level, it portrays the post-Soviet era of Russia with the children (and people) searching for a sense of belonging and/or a fatherly figure
(iii) Yet, at a higher level, the film is full of religious undertones with the narration done in 7 days with the fathers first appearance looking like the Lamentation over Dead Christ with the photo of their father found in a Bible with the meal that resembles the last supper with allusions to the story of Abraham and Isaac etc.
(iv) Finally, could be there any autobiographical element?
(hint: The director is also called Andrey)
-- Besides, the film also cut across several genre, e.g., drama, thriller, religion, etc
-- Remarkably, both kids (i.e., Ivan Dobronravov and Vladimir Garin) behave like real siblings Despite their constant squabbles in the film, they manage to convince me that real life siblings do behave as such
-- Although both kids are excellent I like the performance by the younger one (in part because he was given the entire range of emotions to portray) the elder one has the tougher role of less range of emotions
-- Some scenes are especially engaging
(i) When Andrey shouted at his dad, asking why did he bother to return? wow
(ii) How about the scene on the bridge when the father dumped him and a heavy rain poured wow
(iii) Near the end, when Andrey kept climbing to the top of the tower esp. when you relate it to the initial tower scene hmmm
(iv) Near the end, when Ivan took an axe oh no
-- Technically, I also like
(i) Definitely the poster with the two kids rowing the boat!
Hmmm I like this version better than the one with both of them looking back at the sea
(ii) The title of the film The Return initially, the father has returned; eventually, the kids have returned overall, it is also a cinematic return to the films of early Russian classics
-- Although many people complain about the non closure and many unexplained mysteries in the film (e.g., the unexplained absence of 12 years, the mystery box, the detour, etc), I thought the film depicted LIFE as it is many of us will never get to know everything that happens around us Some things will always remain a mystery sigh
What could be better
-- Some people (BUT NOT me) may lament about the problem of non closure and many unexplained mysteries in the film (Why NOT me? See above paragraph)
-- Some people who expected a thriller (due to the marketing ads) might find the pacing kind of slow
In my humble opinion, I thought the dramatic element was much better!
-- Finally, beyond the obvious plot of father and sons, some people may not see any other depths/symbolism in the film
I highly recommend the film.