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The Return


Year: 2004 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: It is expected that this film is fully subtitled. 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from The Return

Vozvrashcheniye, or The Return, is almost certainly the best film to come out of Russia in years. (Along with Hero it was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, but the award went to the decidedly inferior Nowhere In Africa.)

The Return is one of those films that doesn't really begin or end it's just a cross-sectional slice of the characters' lives. The film begins with Andrei (Garin) daring his younger brother Ivan (Dobronravov) to jump off a tower and into a lake. Ivan fails to take up the dare. The next day, out of the blue, the father they haven't seen for 12 years returns. The day after, the father takes them on a fishing trip. Along the way, the relationship between the brothers changes as their father reveals his attitude towards them. He is a loving father, but authoritarian and sometimes brutal in disciplining them. He seems to be hiding a secret but it's not what you think.

Though it might sound 'boring', this is a wonderfully metaphorical drama, one that mimics real life so well it becomes indistinguishable, yet as a film it strikes all the right emotional notes. Of the many films I saw over summer, only this film and Spider-Man 2 were still on my mind at the end.

The bonds between the three characters is very realistic; throughout the film the brother's relationship reminded me of my younger brother and I (the way we quarrel and then make up almost instantly; I sometimes find myself letting my younger brother make the decisions, especially when plotting against Dad), and the way their father treats them reminded me of my own father (you can just about see the love within all that strictness and seriousness).

This is a very moody film even the music is not really music, just noise that narrates the atmosphere. It's obvious that this film is one that can't be synopsised you have to see it for yourself, which you should. I'm confident that of all the films in the Spring Term, this is the one that will stick in your mind.

Sebastian Ng

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Screenings of this film:

2004/2005 Spring Term (35mm)