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The Return (2006)
Surprisingly good psychological drama/thriller
This is NOT a horror movie, like it has been marketed, but rather a drama/thriller with supernatural and psychological elements. Even on the DVD cover the information and pictures are misleading.
The Return is a slow progressing movie, but with intense moments at some parts. There's a spiritual core to this movie, which becomes eventually stronger in the course of the movie and peaks out in the climax of the movie.
At first glance Joanna (Gellar) is a plain, one-dimensional character, thus there's no empathy with her. But in the course of the movie the viewer begins to sympathise with Joanna, because her anguish and pain become palpable. This is owing to Sarah Michelle Gellar's skillfully subtle portrayal of a tormented young women, who doesn't know where she belongs and why she is undergoing this agony. Moreover Sarah Michelle gives a good and solid performance without much dialogue. She succeeds in conveying the pain and trauma she is going through. Noteworthy are also Peter O'Brien's and Sam Shapard's performances.
There's not much dialogue, which is a great aspect, since the story is told by images and guided by Joanna's experience. Thus, the interpretation is left to the viewer.
However, the character development of the minor characters is very weak, since the only characters to undergo a change are Joanna and Terry.
Lighting and cinematography were powerful. They created a dark, suspenseful and kinda creepy atmosphere.
The Return is an independent movie about death, reincarnation and the circle of life.
The ending is very moving, even if it is predictable.