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The Return (2003)
"Vozvrashchenie" (original title)

8.1
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 27,665 users   Metascore: 82/100
Reviews: 171 user | 101 critic | 30 from Metacritic.com

In the Russian wilderness, two brothers face a range of new, conflicting emotions when their father - a man they know only through a single photograph - resurfaces.

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, (as Aleksandr Novototskiy)
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Title: The Return (2003)

The Return (2003) on IMDb 8.1/10

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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 28 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Otets
...
Mat
Galina Popova ...
Babushka
Aleksey Suknovalov ...
Zavodila
Lazar Dubovik ...
Khuligan
Elizaveta Aleksandrova ...
Ofitsiantka
Lyubov Kazakova ...
Devushka v zerkalakh
Andrey Sumin ...
Chelovek v portu
Aleksey Proshchikin
Viktor Alenin
Stas Orlov
Arseniy Belousov
Sofya Bagdasarova
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Storyline

Two teenage Russian boys have their father return home suddenly after being absent for 12 years. The father takes the boys on a holiday to a remote island on a lake in the north of Russia that turns into a test of manhood of almost mythic proportions. Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

25 June 2003 (Russia)  »

Also Known As:

The Return  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

£43,388 (UK) (25 June 2004)

Gross:

£277,457 (UK) (19 January 2007)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TV)

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the original script, the two brothers were 40-year-old men named Archil and David who recalled their childhood on a balcony in New York, i.e. the film was supposed to include many flashbacks. See more »

Goofs

When Ivan is sitting in the car, the camera pans around the car (before we see him grab the binoculars and begin to use them) - as it pans past the triangular car window you can see the camera reflected in it. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[on-screen caption: Sunday]
[boy falls in the water, then floats up]
Zavodila: Jump as we agreed! Who climbs down the ladder is a cowardly wanker.
[swims to the shore]
Boy on Tower: Go on, Vityok. You're next.
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the end credits, there are still photos. See more »

Connections

Featured in The 61st Annual Golden Globe Awards (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

Ne iz sadu bylo...
Traditional Russian song
Performed by Ivan Mefodyevich Banderovsky
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Resonates long afterward
7 December 2004 | by See all my reviews

This film's power is revealed in the contrast between the events as they play out and the questions generated by the enigmatic final moments. It worked firstly as a mysterious, psychological drama, but once the film had ended, it fit the definition of the term allegory perfectly.

"The Return" makes a compelling case in favor of a poetically complex narrative over the expectations of 'The Hollywood Ending', where life eventually makes some kind of sense. The absence of a father can create a psychological 'presence' for the family, both seen and felt in the emotional interaction of the children. This complex, yet all too human condition is played out here, not as a narrative sleight of hand (The Sixth Sense) but rather as film poetry. Life's hardest truths sit like a stone in the mouth and won't be broken down easily. The characters in this film seem to be struggling with the absence of their father, but doing so with him present.

Visual cues which seem to lead to a metaphorical reading of what's happening are scattered throughout the film. For example, when the the boys see their sleeping father for the first time, he's viewed as Andrea Mantegna's "Dead Christ". The boys dash upstairs immediately afterwords to see if he looks like their father from an old photo. It seems that it's been loosely placed in an old book of engravings - on the page where the angel stays Abraham's hand before he sacrifices his son. Then there is the repeated image of the tower, seeming to both foreshadow and justify a fear of death for the youngest brother. And the mysterious journey to an island, the significance of which changes them all. These don't appear as kitsch cues (as in, "this image stands for this specific idea.") but appear as symbols whose meaning is more poetic than literal. They're tied to the story and can't be extracted. In true Tarkovskian form the filmmaker has bled his symbols of universal references and made them about the characters.

And there's the profoundly enigmatic manner of the father, existing for the two brothers in terms of curt preoccupation, edicts, veiled threats, detachment and blunt instruction. He could very well not be there. This causes both boys to respond to him with a mix of outrage, incredulity and bitterness.

Its a rare film, well worth seeing, if for no other reason than to marvel at the elegiac force of the story, the photography and at the performances that the director managed to coax from his actors. Both the boys in particular are astonishingly subtle. Highly recommended.


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