The Return

Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev
Year Released: 2003
Rating: 2.5

After being away from his family for twelve years, a deadbeat Dad comes back home and decides to take his two sons - a conformist who's desperate to please and a nonconformist who's both stubborn and a bit weak-kneed - to an island for a "retreat" of sorts. He treats them poorly (over and over and over...) and offers little explanation for his absence - he expects respect when he deserves none - and is of the Authoritarian School of Parenting: what he says goes and love and admiration are to develop out of fear. One of the boys goes along with it, the other fights back but eventually they manage, like Oedipus, to see him dead (his death is predictable and presumably meant to be cathartic); the film has the gall to suggest that in unconsciously arranging for his demise, disposing of the body and successfully returning to the 'womb' (Mother), they've finally grown up and 'matured' and that the only path to manhood is through violence. The Father, who went to the island to actually retrieve a small box he buried there, is given a Viking's Funeral with it: the container is really a MacGuffin that could have contained anything, like his lost humanity, Kuwaiti gold or even the last reel to the film, which might have helped.