There are actually three
main characters in this movie, but this image only shows two of them: Ivan
(left) and Andrei
(right). Their father, as usual
, is nowhere to be seen.
This article is about the Russian film, if you're looking for the fan fic of the same name, click hereThe Return
was made in 2003 and tells the story of two brothers - 15-year-old Andrei and 13-year-old Ivan - and the fishing trip they take with their father. Oh, did we mention that the father has been absent from their lives for the past 12 years and abruptly returned the previous day under somewhat vague and shady circumstances?
The two brothers are initially excited at finally being able to get to know their Dad. Ivan, however, quickly begins to develop second thoughts (possibly thanks to his mother's grave composure at both the father's return and at the upcoming trip). These second thoughts give way to hostility and fear as the generic fishing trip turns into a lengthy quest to a remote, mysterious island. What's so special about this island? Does their father have ulterior motives? Is he a criminal? Did their mother know what he was really up to before okaying the trip? Are there lives in danger? The brother's debate this amongst themselves up until the film's climax.
As interesting as these questions are, the movie is less concerned about them and more interested in using them to explore the dynamics of father-son relationships. This was a subject very close to the heart of the director, whose own father disappeared from his life when he was a child. There is
a story, mind you, but this is one of those cases where plot takes a backseat to theme.A sad bit of trivia:
Andrei's actor, Vladimir Garin, never lived to see the film's premiere; one month after shooting had completed, while he was diving into a lake not far from where the movie's climax had been filmed, his legs suddenly cramped, and he tragically sank and drowned.
This Film Contains Examples Of:
- Abusive Parents
- Alternate Character Interpretation: In-Universe Example. Andrei and Ivan debate the true motives (and even the actual identity) of their so-called father. We never do learn which brother was correct.
- Audience Surrogate: Both of the brothers; they're as much in the dark as we, the viewers, are.
- Ax-Crazy: Possibly. It could be that the father was trying to give them another tough life lesson (which he'd been doing all throughout the movie) rather than trying to kill them.
- Calling the Old Man Out: Ivan and (eventually) Andrei do this.
- The Cassandra: Since we never know Father's true nature, either Andrei or Ivan can be viewed as this, although Ivan is a far more overt example.
- Character Development: In the third act, both brothers are the opposite of how they were in the opening; Ivan is willing to stand up to things and people that scare him; Andrei becomes a leader and acts more mature, confident, and responsible.
- Coming of Age Story
- Decoy Protagonist: Ivan. According to the producer, Andrei is the real star of the film. Ivan just overshadows him until the last 20 minutes.
- Disappeared Dad
- Disney Villain Death: Father.
- Extreme Doormat: Andrei pre-character development.
- Freudian Trio / Power Trio
- Gainax Ending: Very subtle as far as this trope goes. Father is no longer in the family picture at the end of the story, taking the movie from realism to pure allegory.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: Vladimir Garin (Andrei) was the voice of Rolly in the russian dub of the 101 Dalmatians tv series.
- Ironic Echo: "With [y]our little hands."
- The script deliberately gives Father several parallels with Jesus (how he appears in his very first scene, his mention of having eaten a lot of fish once, his possibly acting as The Paragon, the Gainax Ending revealing that he may have been a supernatural being, etc.); heck, the film's very title could be a reference to the Christian belief of the Second Coming.
- Curiously, the film also goes out of its way to contrast the two (Father getting angry at Ivan and Andrei for forgiving a bully, his lying to them about the length of the trip, the way he lustfully gazes at a passing woman's bottom, and so on). As for what all that comparing and contrasting is supposed to mean, that's what the WMG and Analysis pages are for.
- Le Film Artistique
- MacGuffin: The box.
- Minimalist Cast
- Momma's Boy: Ivan
- My God, What Have I Done?
- Ivan, after Father falls off the tower.
- Possibly Father, during the chase scene. He arguably comes across as someone who has just realized that things have gotten out of hand and is now trying to clear things up.
- Mysterious Past: Father and, to a lesser extent, Mother.
- No Name Given: All of the characters except Ivan and Andrei
- Parental Abandonment
- The Paragon: Andrei's theory on Father's motives.
- Peer Pressure Makes You Evil: Well, it makes you stand by and do nothing while your friends humiliate your distraught little brother.
- Perpetual Frowner: Father
- Promotion to Parent: Andrei, during the final 20-minutes of the film.
- Road Movie
- Scenery Porn
- Tough Love: Again, Andrei's theory on Father until Andrei finally hits his breaking point.
- Training from Hell
- The Unfavorite: Ivan
- The Unreveal: What was in that box? What was Father up to? Why did he involve the boys? Did he commit a crime? Was he even really their father? All of these questions get some build-up, and none of them are ever answered.
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: Andrei towards Father