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The Return

Extra points for the gloomy

The Return isn't a bad film, but it exemplifies the type of movie that tends to get more credit than it deserves. Frequently, cheerful movies are automatically labeled simplistic, while moody ones are assumed to be profound. While that stereotype holds true to a certain extent, it also causes quite a few dreary films to be overrated. From the outset, The Return embraces the feeling of melancholy. However, it is either relatively straightforward or doesn't provide enough information to become the kind of film replete with nuance to which it so aspires.

In his first feature, Andrey Zvyaginistev tells the tale of two brothers searching for a path to manhood while being raised by a single mother. Their situation abruptly changes though when their father returns after years of absence, eager to instill the tenets of masculinity into his sons. Zvyaginistev's direction is certainly marked by a leaden hand, but he is able to develop an effective chemistry between the two siblings. On the other hand, the father's actions often seem unjustified, and sometimes downright illogical. His entrance comes under unexplained circumstances, and his character essentially stays inaccessible throughout. And though the conclusion provides closure, it still leaves quite a few important questions unanswered.

Stars: 2.5 out of 5