172 user 104 critic

The Return (2003)

Vozvrashchenie (original title)
Unrated | | Drama, Mystery, Thriller | 25 June 2003 (Russia)
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.



, (as Aleksandr Novototskiy)

Watch Now

From $2.00 (SD) on Amazon Video

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



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Elena (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

When a sudden illness and an unexpected reunion threaten dutiful housewife Elena's potential inheritance, she must hatch a desperate plan ...

Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev
Stars: Nadezhda Markina, Andrey Smirnov, Aleksey Rozin
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A trip to the pastoral countryside reveals a dark, sinister reality for a family from the city.

Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev
Stars: Konstantin Lavronenko, Maria Bonnevie, Aleksandr Baluev
Leviathan (2014)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

In a Russian coastal town, Kolya is forced to fight the corrupt mayor when he is told that his house will be demolished. He recruits a lawyer friend to help, but the man's arrival brings further misfortune for Kolya and his family.

Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev
Stars: Aleksey Serebryakov, Elena Lyadova, Roman Madyanov
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A rural farmer is forced to confront the mortality of his faithful horse.

Directors: Béla Tarr, Ágnes Hranitzky
Stars: János Derzsi, Erika Bók, Mihály Kormos
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A woman assists her friend in arranging an illegal abortion in 1980s Romania.

Director: Cristian Mungiu
Stars: Anamaria Marinca, Vlad Ivanov, Laura Vasiliu
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A group of men set out in search of a dead body in the Anatolian steppes.

Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Stars: Muhammet Uzuner, Yilmaz Erdogan, Taner Birsel
Ida (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Anna, a young novitiate nun in 1960s Poland, is on the verge of taking her vows when she discovers a dark family secret dating back to the years of the German occupation.

Director: Pawel Pawlikowski
Stars: Agata Kulesza, Agata Trzebuchowska, Dawid Ogrodnik
Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

An innocent young man witnesses violence breaks out after an isolated village is inflamed by the arrival of a circus and its peculiar attractions, a giant whale and a mysterious man named "The Prince".

Directors: Béla Tarr, Ágnes Hranitzky
Stars: Lars Rudolph, Peter Fitz, Hanna Schygulla
Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Strange events happen in a small village in the north of Germany during the years before World War I, which seem to be ritual punishment. Who is responsible?

Director: Michael Haneke
Stars: Christian Friedel, Ernst Jacobi, Leonie Benesch
Caché (2005)
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A married couple is terrorized by a series of surveillance videotapes left on their front porch.

Director: Michael Haneke
Stars: Daniel Auteuil, Juliette Binoche, Maurice Bénichou
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

The true story of Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby who suffers a stroke and has to live with an almost totally paralyzed body; only his left eye isn't paralyzed.

Director: Julian Schnabel
Stars: Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Marie-Josée Croze
Talk to Her (2002)
Drama | Mystery | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Two men share an odd friendship while they care for two women who are both in deep comas.

Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Stars: Rosario Flores, Javier Cámara, Darío Grandinetti


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


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


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

25 June 2003 (Russia)  »

Also Known As:

The Return  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$19,795 (USA) (6 February 2004)


$502,028 (USA) (3 September 2004)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (TV)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Andrey Zvyagintsev's first feature as a director (he previously made 2 episodes of Chyornaya komnata (2000)). See more »


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 »


[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 »


Referenced in Rewind This! (2013) See more »


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 (Los Angeles, CA) – 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.

104 of 114 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
'The Return does not have a full-filling end' cinemafiendee
What the fock is in the box? rrr_mihai
Great movie, but... svirepi-blagoje
Let's debate the 'whys' and other questions pinkybanana2000
Blu-ray edub127
Discuss The Return (2003) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: