The Return. 2003. Russia. Directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev. Screenplay by Vladimir Moiseenko, Aleksandr Novototsky-Vlasov. With Konstantin Lavronenko, Vladimir Garin, Ivan Dobronravov. 35mm. In Russian; English subtitles. 110 min.
The father of two teenage boys suddenly reappears, without explanation, after a 12-year absence. While shocked and puzzled, the boys are eager to make up for lost time, and the three embark on a road trip to rekindle their bond. Yet their secretive father seems to conceal obscure plans and baffles the teens with his bouts of temper and occasional charm. This enigmatic thriller, Andrey Zvyagintsev’s debut feature, won the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival and earned the director immediate comparisons to Andrei Tarkovsky. Zvyagintsev has since built an exceptional career with dark tales, such as Leviathan (2014) and Loveless (2017), that explore moral dilemmas and spiritual torment.