The Return

Rated NR 2004

When the father whom two young boys have never known suddenly shows up and takes them away on a fishing trip, many questions arise. Where has he been all these years? What right does he have to demand their respect, when he's a virtual stranger? And, most important, does he have an ulterior motive for the alleged holiday they're taking? Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev makes an accomplished feature debut here, answering the viewer's questions either slowly or not at all, dispassionately observing the deterioration of a father-sons bond that wasn't that strong to begin with. The notion that much about the father remains a mystery can be frustrating, but by giving us no more information than the boys have, Zvyagintsev neatly places us in their shoes. The film's only major false note is that it ends with a montage of what are supposed to be amateur snapshots, but are way too artfully composed to have been taken by anything less than a skilled photographer.

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