Kino Lorber has released Andrey Zvyagintsev’s directorial debut, The Return, on Blu-ray.
When the father of Andrei and Ivan returns unexpectedly after a twelve year absence, he invites the two boys to go on a camping trip that will cast them into a whirlwind of conflicting emotions – and with tragic results.
This film tackles the subject of the absent father unlike any other that I’ve seen, heightening the drama and intensity to almost biblical proportions. The imagery is beautiful in contrast to the raw feel of the material, which views the father as a flawed God-figure in the lives of his abandoned children. Throughout the film, we are torn. He’s a difficult entity, unapologetically blunt and harsh in His manner of speaking, yet capable of something like caring – even love. And still, his intentions are ambiguous. Why did He leave in the first place? What is the purpose of His return?
The film offers no easy answers, and the events that transpire over the course of the film will no doubt upset many. It’s also an unexpectedly touching film, where grace is found in the least likely of moments.
The actors ( Vladimir Garin, Ivan Dobronravov, Konstantin Lavronenko) serve the material well, under the superb direction of Zvyagintsev. The Return feels like an intensely personal labor of love, and it’s one that I’m glad to have witnessed.
Available for purchase now.