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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

‘The Return': A Haunting Russia Thriller about an Ominous and Fateful Familial Reunion

Movie poster for the Russian film The Return starring Vladimir Garin and Ivan Dobronravov

“The Return” (“Vozvrashchenie”) is a provocative Russian drama-thriller from 2003 starring Vladimir Garin and Ivan Dobronravov as Andrey and Ivan, adolescent brothers who have grown up in a fatherless home situated in rural northwestern Russia. The two are stunned when, upon returning home one day, they are confronted with the looming presence of their long-absent father Otets (Konstantin Lavronenko)—a man who mysteriously absconded from the family 12 years earlier.

The younger Ivan is delighted to be reunited with Otets, while Andrey remains apprehensive toward the man they have only ever known through a faded photograph from many years earlier. Ostensibly seeking to rebuild companionship with his sons, Otets invites them both on a fishing vacation to nearby Lake Ladoga. Yet as their journey unfolds and Otets’ charming facade begins to fade, Andrey and Ivan soon find themselves at the whim of a capricious and distressingly mercurial personality.

Written and directed by acclaimed Russian filmmaker Andrey Zvyagintsev (“Leviathan”, “Loveless”), ‘The Return” is a somber tale of reunification and discordance, flavored perfectly by cinematographer Mikhail Krichman’s desaturated and strikingly melancholy stylings. Harrowing and entirely absorbing, it’s a brilliantly constructed and profoundly haunting experience that will stay with you long after the final credits have rolled.


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