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The Return

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2004 1 Jan
The Return
from Film Forum, 02/26/04

What happens when two young brothers come home one day to find their father, missing for more than a decade, has come home? Russian filmmaker Andrey Zvyagintsev makes his directorial debut with The Return, a story about a mysterious disappearance and an even more mysterious reappearance. Vanya and Andrey (Ivan Dobronravov and Vladimir Garin) are siblings with serious differences in their response to the homecoming—one refuses to respect the grouchy old man, while the other shows a willingness to forgive and even to obey.

Gerri Pare (Catholic News Service) says, "For those who prefer their movies to offer neatly wrapped-up narratives, The Return won't offer much of a return for the investment, but it's possible to look beyond the melancholy story and appreciate the incisive character studies. The story suggests biblical dimensions of good and evil and the unwelcoming landscapes and choppy waters add to the thriller-like atmosphere of foreboding and dread that populate this chilly, enigmatic tale."

Mainstream critics are praising The Return and the Academy has nominated it for Best Foreign Film. We'll see how it fares on Sunday.

from Film Forum, 05/13/04

If you've got a hankering for Russian rather than Italian, more and more Christian film critics recommend you see The Return.

Michael Leary (Matthews House Project) considers how the film sizes up to the work of Russian master filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky. "Tarkovsky's films do deal explicitly with spirituality and psychology of certain cultural situations, but they do so with a social or historical realism that roots the spiritual revelations of his films within the unfolding of concrete, historicized realities rather than mythical ones. The Return on the other hand opts to be driven by overtly mythical overtones, and the strength of the film lies in Zvyangintsev's uncanny knack for storytelling. He chooses simply to focus on his characters and their story instead of the culture of post-Soviet Russia, a theme which pervades much of contemporary Russian filmmaking."

Read my full review at Looking Closer.

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