The Return is a moving drama about two brothers whose father returns back after twelve long years. The brothers Ivan and Andrey, aged around twelve and fifteen respectively, live with their mother and grandmother. While Andrey, has an amiable, going with the wind attitude, younger Ivan is much more stubborn and deeply emotional. As they run back home after a fight between themselves, they are shocked to know their father is back, whom they then confirm from an old faded photograph. Slowly the strains of the long absence start becoming obvious as the father fails to show any enthusiasm towards them. Then he tells them of the fishing trip they will be doing a day after. So begins a difficult journey, which slowly becomes emotional as well as psychological in nature as, on one hand Andrey strives to please his father despite his cold demeanor, whereas on the other hand their begins a battle of sorts between Ivan and the father, with both adamant and resentful as ever towards each other. Their journey then takes them to a mysterious island, while the strain between the three almost increases even more.
The movie has a keen elliptical quality as it’s never made clear where the father had been for those years and why he went to that island. Though the father and Andrey deliver their performances very well, it’s Ivan who becomes the soul of the story, capturing the seething undercurrents of the movie. The movie is also cinematically quite accomplished but not that much to earn comparisons with Tarkovsky, as few critics had done.
Quite sadly, the kid who plays Andrey drowned in a lake shortly after the shooting was over.
The movie won, Andrey Petrovich Zvyagintsev, the director, a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.
At times how well a movie finally comes out to be depends entirely on its lead character, or may be it appears so because of certain performances. Vanessa Chantal Paradis, acting as Adèle, delivers one such performance in The Girl on the Bridge. Adèle is one visceral as well as unlucky girl, who hopelessly falls in love with every guy she meets and as luck has for her the meetings always end as an act of promiscuousness. The opening scene, a monologue by Adèle, addressing as it looks to some jury, almost sets the tone of the movie. Disappointed by her failed love affairs Adèle has decided to end her life, so as she’s about to jump from a bridge she’s stalled by a knifethrower, who talks her out to be his target girl in the knife throwing act. Hesitatingly she agrees and thus begins their journey of luck and adventure.
The movie’s shot in black and white, saddled with swooping camera movements, which give the movie the fleetingness it desires. With echoes of La Strada, the movie may not be that original but Vanessa portrayal of Adèle does adds freshness to it.
Here’s the opening scene.