by Allan Fish
(Russia 2003 105m) DVD1/2
We’re going on a trip
p Dimitri Lesnevsky d Andrei Zvyagintsev w Vladimir Moiseenko, Alexandre Novotosky ph Mikhail Krichman ed Vladimir Mogilevsky m Andrei Dergachev art Zhanna Pakhornova
Konstantin Lavronenko (father), Vladimir Garin (Andrei), Ivan Dobronravov (Ivan), Natalia Vdovina (mother),
Rites of passage films are ten a penny these days. Even the ones held in high regard in the English-speaking world – Reiner’s Stand by Me, say – are hardly the classics their reputation attests to. It’s all been said before, all been done to death so many times that one can almost hear ourselves saying “enough already” in our minds. At least with Hollywood’s saccharine takes on the familiar theme. In the more expansive plains of world cinema, however, there’s a tradition of rites of passage films that buck the trend and from that strain comes Andrei Zvyagintsev’s debut, The Return.
Essentially, Andrei, 15, and Ivan, 12, live with their mother and grandmother in a small rural community in northern Russia. The boys spend their days with other local youths playing dare games, such as diving from a high tower into the sea. That is until, one evening, they return home and find a man asleep on their bed that their mother says is their father, who has been gone for 12 years since just after Ivan’s birth. The picture the children keep inside a bible in the attic shows it is the same man, but they are reluctant when their father ups and takes them away overnight on a trip, and their mother seems ready to let them go. They are supposed to be brought back the following day, but business affairs mean their father extends their sojourn, taking them on a little trip to a deserted island where they can fish and he can finish his business affairs. The question is why this island, as they find it deserted. (more…)