Right from the start of Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev's controlled, enigmatic debut, you feel a sense of menace. After an unexplained 12-year absence, a father (Konstantin Lavronenko) returns home to his two adolescent sons Andrei (Vladimir Garin) and Ivan (Ivan Dobronravov). He suggests to their mother that he take the children on a fishing trip. The trio head out to a little-known island, but the boys are unprepared for Dad's remote and brutal nature...
It's precisely because Zvyagintsev leaves out so many concrete details central to his sparse story that the drama opens itself up to various allegorical interpretations, be they religious, political or Oedipal. Unfolding over seven days in long, carefully framed takes that convey the harsh, elemental nature of the film's universe, The Return is given real resonance by its three compelling lead performances. Tragically, Garin himself drowned in an accident after shooting ended.