Page Index Toggle Pages: 1 Print
Normal Topic The Return (2003) (Read 3,612 times)
Andreas_N
Gold Member
****
Offline


BA Member

Posts: 283
Location: Klagenfurt, Austria
Joined: 02. Nov 2005
Gender: Male
The Return (2003)
08. Feb 2006 at 08:02
Print Post  
The Return is a Russian movie that deals with two boys, Andrej and Ivan, and the sudden appearance of a man who claims to be their father. The three of them embark on a trip that eventually brings them to a remote island. There things get out of control and a mentally thrashing climax leads to a weird final denouement that leaves many questions unanswered and an attentive viewer unsatisfied.

The movie's very basic premise is indeed promising and causes the audience to have certain expectations and rough ideas of underlying themes and the topics that are likely to be addressed. The first scenes provide an interesting introduction to the two brothers, their relationship with each other, their fears and specific characteristics. Russian movies tend to be very different from productions of other countries, mainly in terms of pace, visuals and tone. This very much applies here.

Then the boys' father turns up and the mysteries start. Who is he? Where did he come from? Why didn't he show up before? These questions do not necessarily need to be answered on condition that the movie either genuinely unravels the mysteries by natural developments or that the story is sophisticated enough to refrain from any revelations. Neither is the case. Instead more and more questions are posed and the story turns from interesting to weird. Not only that the identity and the intentions of the man claiming to be the boys' father remain entirely unclear, the story as it is presented is occasionally incoherent and simply not understandable. Some examples: The man takes the two boys with him for almost a week – nobody knows where they are going or what they are about to do. The road trip aspect is nicely transformed, but there is no main theme that provides real identification and understanding of the proceeding events. I never stopped expecting some kind of explanation, and thus I was surprised that the movie never provided one. Then there is something that the man digs out – it seems to be a treasure and the main incentive for him to go on the trip to the island in the first place. So what is it? Not a single hint is given. The entire quest of the boys to connect with the strange man is hampered by the incoherent developments and prevents the movie from persuasively elaborating on the father-son relationship, which was the primary source of the movie's emotional and psychological strength.

The two boys do a decent job. The younger one delivers some difficult and very emotional scenes that require substantial acting skills. The visuals are interesting, as you normally do not come to see images of the Russian countryside in all its rugged and picturesque beauty. The camera work is sometimes too slow in pace, but generally acceptable. The close-ups and the use of light is fine – so the visual accomplishments need to be appreciated as such.

What starts as a very promising movie becomes an average flick that lacks substantial quality in plot and storyline developments. Although I could to some extent identify with the characters, the movie does little to help the audience to connect with them. It rather provides nothing but questions you expect to be answered. The theme of an absent father coming back and the emotional turmoil inflicted on the two boys is a very strong premise that made me expect a very sophisticated handling of the conflicts and frictions within the family and in particular between the father and his sons. I would love to give the movie a good rating for its theme, but the crudities were too apparent and overlapping the qualities. 5/10.
  
Back to top
 
IP Logged
 
josephk
Platinum Member
*****
Offline



Posts: 3,981
Location: Canada
Joined: 01. Apr 2002
Re: The Return (2003)
Reply #1 - 08. Feb 2006 at 11:25
Print Post  
:|

I couldn't disagree more with your last paragraph. This movie is anything but crude or insubstantial. Just because it doesn't deal with the themes in a pre-packaged Hollywood style where all the answers are handed to you on a plate doesn't mean it lacks substance. It's just a different style of filmmaking.

To each his own, of course, but I thought this movie was very powerful, subtle and beautiful. I gave it a 9/10.

  
Back to top
 
IP Logged
 
cal-Q-L8
Platinum Member
*****
Offline


Admin

Posts: 8,002
Location: Australia
Joined: 30. Oct 2001
Gender: Male
Re: The Return (2003)
Reply #2 - 29. Jun 2006 at 11:36
Print Post  
I agree with Joseph. I watched this movie properly today (I'd previously seen it when concentrating on other tasks) and was most impressed. I failed to detect any flaws at all. It looked superb, the cinematography is stunning and looks like it was shot mainly toward the end of the day or early mornings when there is a half-light.

The movie deals with several themes including coming of age, sibling rivalry, family reunion, courage, trust, authority and survival, among others.

There are questions unanswered but those questions are the mysteries that we live with daily. Poems and songs are always lamenting about the challenges in life, the meaning of life, the irony of events, the changing relationships we have, our connection to land and our constant search for meaning and our desire to make our lives count for something. This film is a poem... watch it and think. Discerning viewers will find it rewarding.

10/10

Here's a review from IMBd which closely reflects my own opinion in a much better way than I could:

Author: Roland E. Zwick


"The Return," a breathtakingly austere masterpiece from the land that gave us Eisenstein, Pudovkin and Tarkovsky, is one of the most beautifully acted and directed films I have seen in years. Astonishingly enough, this is the feature film debut for director Andrei Zvyagintsev who demonstrates more of a mastery and command of the medium in this his maiden effort than most directors do in a whole body of work.

The film tells the tale of two brothers, Ivan and Andrei, who live with their mother and grandmother in a small coastal village in Russia. One day, totally unexpectedly, the boys' father returns after a twelve-year absence. In an effort to make up for lost time, the dad decides to take his sons on a fishing trip, but, almost immediately, he begins to demonstrate disturbing tendencies towards domination and abuse. He also appears to be up to some sort of nefarious business operations to which neither we nor the boys are entirely privy.

Every single moment of this film is a revelation. Zvyagintsev beautifully captures the opposite ways in which the boys react to and interact with their father. Andrei, the oldest, is so desperate for a father figure in his life that he is willing to overlook the often inexplicable, bizarre and possibly even dangerous behavior that this particular father exhibits. Ivan, on the other hand, embittered by years of absence and neglect, seethes with barely disguised rage at the man who now presumes to enter into their once happy lives and assert his authority. Of the two boys, he seems the most tuned into the kind of threat the father may pose to their welfare. Yet, towards the end of the story, the apparently latent love the boy feels for this man as his father does eventually rise to the surface. Through this intense interaction, the film emerges as a complex and profound study of what father and son relationships are really all about.

It is virtually impossible to put into words just how brilliantly the two young actors use their facial expressions to convey a wealth of meaning and emotion. As portrayed by Vladimir Garin, Andrey looks up to his father with a mixture of boyish pride and trembling awe, longing for the kind of male affirmation he has been deprived of all these years. He is desperate to please his father by proving to him that he can perform the acts of manhood that his dad keeps putting forth for him to do. As Ivan, Ivan Dobronravov spends most of his time glaring at the man, his mouth pursed in a tight unyielding grimace of resentment and hate. If I could give an award for the best performance by a child actor in movie history, these two youngsters would be high on my list of candidates. They are that amazing. Tragically, young Garin drowned two months prior to the release of the film, leaving his indelible mark behind in a performance that will never be forgotten by anyone privileged enough to witness it. Konstantin Lavronenko is equally impressive as the boy's mysterious father, beautifully underplaying the part of a man who can appear sane and rational on the surface but who is a seething cauldron of untapped emotions beneath. In fact, it is this constant threat of violence always on the verge of eruption that keeps us off balance and on edge throughout the entire picture.

The film's writers, Vladimir Moiseyenko and Aleksandr Novotosky, deserve special recognition for not allowing the plot to overwhelm the characters. For this is, first and foremost, a great character study. The scenarists have intentionally left the background of the father vague and sketchy, the better to enhance the sense of mystery and danger he represents. We never find out what nefarious activities he is involved with since that is of virtually no importance either to the children or to us. We are too engrossed in the relationships of the characters to care. In fact, there are a few hints towards the end of the film that this seemingly cold, uncaring man, for all his myriad faults, might actually just love his sons in his own strange way. The film leaves us with no easy answers or pat resolutions at the end. And this is how it should be. In fact, the scriptwriters even throw a few of Hitchcock's prized "MacGuffins" into the mix to keep us off balance (there is a scene in which some possibly stolen money sinks to the bottom of a lake that is highly reminiscent of what happens in "Psycho")..

Among other things, "The Return" represents one of the most impressive directorial debuts since Francois Truffaut's "The 400 Blows." Zvyagintsev's ability to draw great performances from his actors is only one of his many talents on display here. His lyrical use of composition, as well as the way in which he makes nature and weather an integral part of his drama help to draw us so deeply into this world that it takes the viewer literally hours to get fully back to his own existence again once the movie has ended. It reverberates for days afterwards. For as with any great film, "The Return" finds its way into the depths of one's soul and leaves the viewer a richer person for the experience.

Winner of the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival (2003), "The Return" is a true work of art and one of the outstanding films of the decade so far. Whatever you do, don't miss this film.
  
Back to top
 
IP Logged
 
Andreas_N
Gold Member
****
Offline


BA Member

Posts: 283
Location: Klagenfurt, Austria
Joined: 02. Nov 2005
Gender: Male
Re: The Return (2003)
Reply #3 - 01. Jul 2006 at 15:06
Print Post  
I've just read through the posted review. It seems to me that all the various aspects the author praises have to do with art and interpretation.

To be quite frank, art has never been one of my specialities. I will never understand people who can stare at a painting for hours, caught in mystifying awe.

In movies I appreciate two things mainly: Good character portrayal + reasonable development and good story + reasonable development.

Both I didn't find in The Return.

To call every single shot a revelation makes me shake my head. Maybe I just don't have a vein for the artistic approach the author offers.

The movie did not leave any kind of lasting impression on me, now that I've seen it such a long time ago. I still advocate that it's average at best.


But that's just my tiny little opinion. Believe me or not  Grin
  
Back to top
 
IP Logged
 
nicolas
Platinum Member
*****
Offline


Toi mon amour, toi qui
a le cœur lourd mon amour

Posts: 1,100
Location: Sur le canapé avec chips/rosé.
Joined: 15. Apr 2006
Gender: Male
Re: The Return (2003)
Reply #4 - 02. Jul 2006 at 16:13
Print Post  
Cal gives it 10/10...... hence is now at the top of the must-see list.
  
Back to top
 
IP Logged
 
cal-Q-L8
Platinum Member
*****
Offline


Admin

Posts: 8,002
Location: Australia
Joined: 30. Oct 2001
Gender: Male
Re: The Return (2003)
Reply #5 - 04. Jul 2006 at 06:46
Print Post  
Andreas,

I'm sure a lot of people agree with you and I appreciate and respect the fact that your opinions are well considered and not frivilous.

  
Back to top
 
IP Logged
 
YoungArthur
BA Moderator
*****
Offline


Hagrid's Helper

Posts: 1,914
Joined: 09. May 2003
Gender: Male
Re: The Return (2003)
Reply #6 - 06. Jul 2006 at 01:08
Print Post  
I'll have to have another look at it. As reflected in my rating of the film I had almost identical reservations that Andreas stated. I appreciated the technical excellence but motivation and story development left me unsatisfied.
  
Back to top
 
IP Logged
 
Page Index Toggle Pages: 1
Print