This beautifully-shot and acted film has all the strengths you associate with the best Russian films: a very well-observed character study, an understanding of landscape and nature, a light touch combined with a sudden hit to the solar plexus--and a story that works just as well on a sharp psychological and realistic level as it does on a hauntingly metaphysical and allegorical one. The film is made with love and intelligence, and it shows. The gulf between the boys and their father--the contrast between the brothers'prickly closeness and his cool sometimes menacing sometimes touching mystery is beautifully, subtly and heartbreakingly brought out. This is a film about misunderstandings--the boys never plumb the core of their father's mystery--and he doesn't understand them either. Some mysteries are never solved--for instance, where he's been; what he was looking for on the island; what happens when they go back home. But that doesn't matter. The hints and clues--the father's unexplained phone calls; the fact he hates fish because he 'ate too much of it at one time; the derelict tower on the island; the ship the boys see--are intriguing and tantalising but not knowing for sure--being made to make up youre own mind about what it all means--is strangely not frustrating but even more intriguing. The actors are superb, all of them--you can totally believe in all these characters. Everything in this film is a complete work of art. In feeling, it reminds me of another great Russian film, The Thief.