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The Return [2003] [DVD] [2004]

4.4 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Vladimir Garin, Ivan Dobronravov, Konstantin Lavronenko, Natalia Vdovina
  • Directors: Andrey Zvyagintsev
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English, Russian
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: 29 Jan. 2008
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002TTT6U
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 12,285 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Product description

Product Description

Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev makes his feature debut with this haunting, poignant family drama. Teenage brothers Andrei (Vladimir Garin) and Ivan (Ivan Dobronravov) have lived with their mother (Natalya Vdovina) and grandmother (Galina Petrova) for as long as they can remember when their long-lost father (Konstantin Lavronenko) suddenly turns up after a twelve-year absence. While Andrei seems happy to see him, the younger Ivan is reluctant and suspicious of his father's motives. The three take a boat to a deserted island in a remote lake in the north of Russia - a trip which turns into an endurance test as the boys struggle to come to terms with their father's presence and cruel, mysterious ways. The film won the Golden Lion award at the 2003 Venice Film Festival.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Quite disturbing in places and emotionally bleak and harsh. A film about relationships, secrets, young dreams and expectations: dreams that get shattered on the return of the father after 12 years of absence. And as much as you come to fully understand the almost minimalist plot, you never know the whole secret: what's in the box? You don't really need to know. Acted brilliantly, use of colours and angles and soundtrack is superb; some say a weak storyline but I disagree.. there's nothing weak about this. I felt cold the whole time I was watching it, like the cinematography and the storyline somehow gets into you and makes you want to run home. Top film!
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This is an emotionally draining film aggravated by the real tragedy as one of the boys (Vladimr Garin) drowned in the lake on the outskirts of St. Petersburg just after the film was released. This film raises an issue of single parenthood and shows all the anguish and pain that children without a father have to go through. The film starts with a sudden reappearance of a father who next day takes both his sons on a camping trip which could have changed their lives for better but for the drastic accident.

Although many have indicated that this film is about the father-son relationship, I think it is also about the relationship between the two brothers who have grown up without any male influence. While being depressingly vulnerable and unconfident the boys prove to be independent beyond their age.

Great if very sad...
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Excellent film, keeps you guessing, but the finish a bit enigmatic.
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A very fine first film by Russian director Andrei Zvyagyntsev. A pair of boys (a teenager and his younger brother) live with their mother in a decrepit town in northwestern Russia. Suddenly, their absent father returns (a rude and authoritarian figure, who it is suggested, has been a military pilot) and brings them to a mysterious island for what is presumably a fishing trip. But, as it turns out, in the island a treasure is buried, perhaps from a burglary from which the father might be connected. The older brother adores his father, while the younger one loathes him. The father becomes growingly brutal, and as the movie suspense increases, everything points out to a final tragedy. Fine performances by everybody, but specially the boys (sadly, after the movie was shot, the actor playing the older brother die in the lake shown in the movie, in a scene eerily reminiscent of one portrayed in the film). The Christian symbolism is sometimes a bit heavy handed (with the father being a sort of devious Jesus figure), but otherwise this is a very fine movie.
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This movie is absolutely astounding in terms of style, content, plot, and acting quality. When I watched it for the first time, I was unable to switch my mind away from it for days afterwards, as the film raises more questions than it answers. To me, this has always been a sign of an outstanding film. A good film will keep you highly entertained, but an outstanding film will have you thinking and asking questions well after the film has finished rolling. I absolutely loved it.

In brief, the story is about two adolescent boys who come home one day to find that the father who has been absent from their lives for 12 years has now returned and wants to take them on a trip for a few days. During the course of this trip, the father demonstrates a harsh, distant, and tough method of parenting, and makes the father/son bonding process a difficult and awkward one. He is forever trying to teach them to be tougher, more manly, and more independent. He rarely engages in any real conversation with them, instead preferring to bark orders at them or brood silently. This kind of parenting is completely confusing and difficult for the boys to respond to and understand. Andrey, the older of the two, is so eager to please his father and tries to do everything he is taught in an attempt to win his father's approval. Ivan, the younger of the two, is more suspicious and resentful of his father, and is generally unco-operative and unresponsive towards him. With the beautiful backdrop of a bleak Russian landscape, we observe these relationships developing over the course of about a week, and there are a few twists and turns in the plot which provoke many questions for us as viewers.

Some will inevitably criticise The Return for being 'confusing' and 'without any real conclusion'.
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What if you hadn't seen your father in twelve years, and one day you came home, and your mom said that he was sleeping in the bedrooom?
That's exactly what happens to the two young brothers, Andrey and Ivan, when the mysterious man, just arrived, who claims to be their father, decides to take them on a fishing trip for bonding time.

As the movie progresses, it is evident to both the movie viewer and the brothers that something isn't quite right. Every once in a while, the father turns around and just seems to do something absolutely strange, from a violent outburst causing his motives to be questioned to moments of a possible attempt at actually spending time with his sons.

Both of the brothers experience separate reactions. The older one trusts his father, while the younger is reluctant, which often causes strife between them.

Haunting, disturbing, and in some ways sad, The Return, is more of a slow and thoughtful film to be appreciated for its subtleties. Each part is acted quite well. The characters are believable and made real through the their hardships and obvious uncertainties. I think the thing that makes The Return such a special movie is the relationship between each separate person and seeing how they treat one another.

It's fun trying to figure out whether or not the father really is good or bad; although, a warning beforehand, a few things are left for you to form your own opinion about. Perhaps that is what the director wanted, and it doesn't harm the film, might even make the ending more effective and powerful; so keep an open mind and don't be disappointed. This isn't like American movies where every loose end has to be tied up at the close, however messy or unbelievable.
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