The Return

The Return


Reviewed by: David Haviland

One of the disappointing aspects of the Harry Potter films is how poorly our child actors compare with America's best, by which, of course, I mean Haley Joel Osment. It seems clear that Britain doesn't have a child actor in that class. It seems equally clear, after watching The Return, that Russia does.

The actor in question is Ivan Dobronravov, who plays 12-year-old Ivan. The film opens with a powerful scene, as Ivan and his older brother's friends dare each other to jump off a high tower into rocky waters. Ivan refuses and is called a coward, but he demonstrates a different kind of courage by staying on top of the tower, in freezing conditions, refusing to give in.

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Ivan and his brother are taken on a fishing trip by a man who claims to be their father. The older brother, Andrey (Vladimir Garin), is desperate for a male role model and welcomes the stranger, but Ivan is stubbornly hostile and refuses to trust this man, who may or may not have deserted them.

The film is beautifully shot and loaded with symbolism. The story is simply told, and powerfully evokes that sense of rage and powerlessness that comes with childhood.

It is, however, terribly slow, yet builds to a climax that's well worth your patience.

Reviewed on: 25 Jun 2004
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Absent Russian father returns to take sons on mysterious journey to an isolated island.
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Read more The Return reviews:

Scott Macdonald *****
Angus Wolfe Murray ****1/2

Director: Andrei Zvyagintsev

Writer: Vladimir Moiseenko, Alexander Novototsky

Starring: Vladimir Garin, Ivan Dobronravov, Konstantin Lavronenko, Natalya Vdovina, Yelizaveta Aleksandrova, Lazar Dubovik, Lyubov Kazakova, Galina Petrova, Aleksei Suknovalov, Andrei Sumin

Year: 2003

Runtime: 106 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: Russia


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