Somewhere in Northern Russia in a small Russian Orthodox monastery lives an unusual man whose bizarre conduct confuses his fellow monks, while others who visit the island believe that the man has the power to heal, exorcise demons and foretell the future.
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
Andrey Zvyagintsev says the four main characters of the film represent the four elements: "Earth is Mother, water is Father... the elder brother, Andrey, is air and Ivan is fire. But if you think it's all different, it is." See more »
On the island, Ivan bandages his hand after it gets injured. In the next shot, the bandage is on his other hand. See more »
[on-screen caption: Sunday]
[boy falls in the water, then floats up]
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.
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During the end credits, there are still photos. See more »
I had seen many good reviews for this film but was reluctant at first to watch it as I thought it could be just one of the high art movies which seem to be made for the development of cinematography alone rather than enjoyment of the public and which I find hard to like even though I appreciate them.
I watched "The Return" on DVD and I truly think it is special and is very absorbing as well as highly intelligent. I just wish I went to see it in the cinema on the big screen when I had a chance, because the film's cinematography is exceptional and nature views play as big part in the film as actors themselves do. I can close my eyes and still see the lakes, the forest, the vast empty spaces. The film left me feeling elated and clean.
I loved the structure of the film, so different to the usual Hollywood movie: nothing is explained and you can think for yourselves. Also I could not guess the ending.
The story is simple the father of two boys was absent for twelve years (he probably was in the prison camp - this is one of the places I can think of where you could be fed a poor diet of fish).The mother never told the boys the truth about him .The father comes back, wants his boys to accept him as the father figure and help them to learn how to survive in this world, but the misunderstanding and flaws in his character play their role.
Behind the story many spiritual (and other) layers hide.. One quote comes to mind that the prophets are never accepted by their own people. Or other layer - Russia itself is often viewed as a parent for its people . The country had a terrible 70-80 years recently when it really was a big prison camp. Now some of the Russian people feel estranged, unloved and sometimes betrayed by their country.
It is pity that because the film was in Russian language with English subtitles, some meaning was "lost in translation". I am of the Russian origin and noticed some discrepancies in the subtitles. But it must be very difficult to translate the film like this as there are not many words in it and they often have second-layer meaning.
The director Andrei Zvyagintsev must be really congratulated on such a great debut, a masterpiece accomplished on a very low budget.
The casting is absolutely perfect the child actors even look very much as their parents. Vanya looks like his mother, has a personality similar to her, is close to her, where Andrei looks like the father and has more of the father's tough personality. They both are exceptional actors, especially for their age. When you watch the film you don't see the acting, you see the real boys almost like they were filmed by a hidden camera.
Konstantin Lavronenko did a particular good job of depicting very complicated personality of the father. Everything is there pain of the wasted years, love for the boys deeply hidden, scars that some very hard life path left and all this behind the tough facade.
I give this movie 10/10
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