8.0/10
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200 user 116 critic

The Return (2003)

Vozvrashchenie (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 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.

Director:

Andrey Zvyagintsev

Writers:

Vladimir Moiseenko, Aleksandr Novototskiy-Vlasov (as Aleksandr Novototskiy)
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Popularity
4,320 ( 1,904)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 34 wins & 18 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Vladimir Garin ... Andrey
Ivan Dobronravov ... Ivan
Konstantin Lavronenko ... Otets
Nataliya Vdovina ... Mat
Galina Popova Galina Popova ... Babushka
Aleksey Suknovalov Aleksey Suknovalov ... Zavodila
Lazar Dubovik Lazar Dubovik ... Khuligan
Elizaveta Aleksandrova Elizaveta Aleksandrova ... Ofitsiantka
Lyubov Kazakova Lyubov Kazakova ... Devushka v zerkalakh
Andrey Sumin Andrey Sumin ... Chelovek v portu
Aleksey Proshchikin Aleksey Proshchikin
Viktor Alenin Viktor Alenin
Stas Orlov Stas Orlov
Arseniy Belousov Arseniy Belousov
Sofya Bagdasarova Sofya Bagdasarova
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Storyline

The events of the film unfold over six days and tell about the mysterious journey of a strange man and his two teenage sons who had never seen him before. Vanya and Andrey, for how long they remember, lived with their mother, who once told them that their father was a pilot. But one ordinary Monday, dad appears in their house and takes the brothers on a hike to a small island in the middle of a forest lake. Written by Peter-Patrick76 (peter-patrick@mail.com)

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When pre-production was starting, director Andrey Zvyagintsev told producer Dmitry Lesnevsky there was no point in making the film if they couldn't find two boys who were "actors of genius." Zvyagintsev had two assistants who helped him look for actors, one in St. Petersburg and one in Moscow, and visited both cities himself. He found Vladimir Garin in St. Petersburg and Ivan Dobronravov in Moscow, picking them from over 600 contenders. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

[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.
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Connections

Referenced in Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

VI Benedictus
by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
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User Reviews

Strong performances and interesting direction and development make up for the weaknesses inherent in such a minimalistic film
10 July 2004 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Andrei and Ivan have lived the vast majority of their lives with their mother and grandmother. They find this dynamic changed when their father turns up after 12 years absence. While Andrei seems happy with this and keen to try and bond with his father, the younger Ivan is much more stubborn and reluctant – being suspicious of this man's motives. The three go on a trip fishing for a few days, which turns into a much longer time as the father has 'business'. As the journey continues Ivan struggles with a father who is strict and strangely cruel.

On the back of awards and good reviews I was interested enough to go and watch this film at the cinema. Not being a great thinker myself, I usually find the 'you work it out' attitude of art-house films to be rather annoying and unfair and sadly there was an element of that with this film. The narrative is interesting enough to keep you in your seat but just don't expect anything to be explained; in fact there was not even enough information to even really interpret what was going on – by the end of the film I was left with buckets of questions but hardly a single answer…I wanted to ask the others in the cinema (all 4 of us) if they had 'got it' and if it was just me. However what saves this film from being another obscure arty movie is the delivery and the journey we are taken on. For all the unknowns the film is still gripping, even if it is slow at the same time. The journey is an interesting one and one that sees the characters grow in ways I was captivated by even if I didn't understand it all. I would have liked even a little bit of information by the end but I was content that I had witnesses a story and, like some things in life, you don't get all the facts – I was just like the boys in the film, not knowing what was going on but involved in it nonetheless.

For a debut feature the direction from Zvyagintsev was excellent. It was full of great shots, great camera movement and wonderful use of surroundings to create a world where only these three are – no other cars and barely any other people. For this same reason, praise should be endlessly heaped onto cinematographer Krichman as he makes everything look eerily beautiful and calm. The direction aids the minimal story and helped keep me interested, but the clincher for me were the performances. The only named characters are the two boys and, as such, the best performances come from them. Everyone knows that Garin died in an accident similar to the films opening tower-jumping scene and it casts a bit of a shadow over his performance to think that such a young man has died needlessly, but his performance here is still assured. He is keen but he stills allows us to see bits of doubt and fear in his eyes – like a loyal dog coming back after a beating. Dobronravov gives a completely different performance that is much more showy and powerful and he totally surprised me – such a strong and believable performance from so young a boy, he makes Hollywood's blockbuster preening child 'actors' appear to be the bland products that many of them are. Lavronenko's 'father' is a brooding beast who is hard to understand and he plays him fairly blankly. In a way this works but I did wonder if Lavronenko really understood his character either. Two or three others are in the film but, as the character names suggest, the film belongs to Krichman and the late Garin and they do not struggle with this responsibility.

Overall I will not claim to fully understand what the story was about or if it was an allegory for wider issues but the story is still engaging and emotional. The delivery is pretty much perfect although I imagine many audiences will be put off by both the lack of information and the slow pace.

The direction and cinematography are superb and the two boys in the lead put many other child actors to shame by the sheer confidence and ability they have in delivering such complex characters and emotions.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

Russia

Language:

Russian

Release Date:

25 June 2003 (Russia) See more »

Also Known As:

The Return See more »

Filming Locations:

Russia See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$19,795, 8 February 2004

Gross USA:

$504,256

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$8,482,993
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Ren Film See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TV)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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