The Return (2003)

The Return (2003) movie poster

director Andrey Zvyagintsev
viewed: 01/05/2014

Andrey Zvyagintsev’s debut film The Return won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival on its release and Zvyagintsev was getting compared Andrei Tarkovsky.  High praise?  I wonder how many young Russian filmmakers come on the scene hoping to be the next Tarkovsky or are compared to Tarkovsky?  Who knows?

The Return was recommended to me by a friend, in part because she thought it was good but as I started watching it, I remembered that one reason for her recommending it was because she thought I looked like Konstantin Lavronenko, the returnee of The Return.

The return of the title refers to a young father who shows up after twelve years of absence in the lives of his two young boys.  Though the boys speculate about what has kept him away, and for that matter what brought him back, it’s never fully explained.  He just shows up and takes them for a camping/fishing trip into the wilderness and shows himself a harsh and unpredictable figure, who earns his boys’ fears and distrust as well as some respect and admiration.

It’s a pretty metaphorical situation, though very naturalistic as well.  I won’t delve into a half-assed attempt at analysis for the meaning therein and I also won’t detail the happenings that unfold because the unpredictability of the situation is quite critical to its unfolding, too.  Though I will wonder aloud if there are parts of Russia so readily untrafficked by humans that such isolation is easily achieved or not.

A good film, if not a great one, in my estimation, it’s also notable that Zvyagintsev’s lates film, Leviathan (2014) made a lot of “best of” lists from last year.  So, something to keep tabs on.

And I can see the resemblance to Lavronenko.

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