Probably, the only things we know about Russia are that, it is the largest country in the world, the communist revolution, the Soviet Union, the Civil War but very less about their Cinema. The Return (Vozvrashcheniye) is considered to be one of the Greatest Russian films and it truly is. The characters here unfold myriad emotions and run deep into our hearts like a wounds, as the film proceeds.
Set in Contemporary Russia, one fine day Vanya and Andrei, two brothers suddenly encounter their father who has returned home after 10 years. They live with their Mother and Grandmother and only thing they know about their Father is from the old faded family photo. While the film proceeds, we get to know nothing about the father- what he did, did he serve in the military or was he in a prison camp?
He takes the boys to a fishing vacation, Vanya isn’t so fond of the Father and Andrei gets along with him. The relationship between the three unfolds while on the road for their fishing vacation, where the Father’s furious reactions are met by the two boys. The Father gets brutal and solid as the time passes. With such a display of aggression and hostility, Andrei is made to think of his Father as a possible murderer.
At one point, the Father just passively witnesses his boys getting beaten by a bunch of street kids. Dad’s old-school, hook or crook parenting approach is not very well taken by the younger brother Vanya and he repeatedly rebels spectacularly, while the older one -Andrei, desperate for approval, and also completely unsure of who this man is or what makes him tick, is torn between fear and adoration.
The character arcs of the film make wide openings with the help of exotic locations. Amidst the blue skies and the forests of Russia, the Father doesn’t know how to bond with his own blood, and hence, as it seems he wildly overcompensates this lacking by being totally intolerant of any form of weakness displayed by his sons. The confused boys one tends to sympathize with and the Father seems absolutely ignorant, uncaring about the gravity of his unkind behavior.
Being the first feature film of the Director Andrey Zvyagintsev, he certainly deserves a bow for handling a story so complex and intricate in an authentic and excellent way. The Screenwriting (Vladimir Moiseyenko & Aleksandr Novototsky) is exceptional with one receiving more visual information rather than spoken (for instance, the first shot and the last shot of the Father). With a strong conflict and impeccable Cinematography (Mikhail Krichman), this is a must watch Russian film.
Release: 25 June, 2003
Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev
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