Vozvrashcheniye | Возвращение | The Return [2003]

6/10 | 10.Mar.12
Vozvrashcheniye | Возвращение | The Return

(Andrey Zvyagintsev: 2003)

THE RETURN (“Vozvrashcheniye”, 2003). The elemental title; the desolate, half constructed, underpopulated setting; the abrupt and unannounced return of the missing and almost mythical father who’s first seen by his teenaged sons asleep in bed, laid out like a forced-perspective Mannerist painting of the dead Christ; visual confirmation that it’s really Dad by checking the only photograph of him, which is kept in the old illustrated family Bible right next to the engraved plate of the Binding of Isaac: oh-oh, we’re in for Heavy Symbolism. And so we are.

I admired the director’s (Andrei Zvyagintsev) control, and the look of the film with its monochromatic palette and vast flat landscapes was suitably oppressive: if the world in the movie is not hostile to humans, it’s indifferent at best. The actors who play the two boys are excellent, as is the actor who plays the enigmatic father (is he angry? bored? hostile? indulgent? exasperated? all of the above? none of the above?) without being at all showy. And yet there was that symbolism, equal parts New Testament and Joseph Campbell but lacking that something else it really needed. 6/10 [3/10/12]

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