The opening sequence of The Return, in which a young boy refuses to jump from a high platform into the water while facing peer pressure, is just filmed to perfection. It's a rather simple sequence but the sweeping visuals and precise shot compositions perfectly express the boys' state of fear. This is something that Andrei
Zyagintsev's films all have in common - precise visual compositions.. While his film Elena's compositions
were more complex, The Return is just as brilliant at creating expressive visuals and its not just the compositions but also the use of the blue/greyish tinted color pallete, particularly in the second half of the film. For anyone not aware, the films about two young brothers who go on a fishing trip with their father, who returns home after being gone for 12 years. All three actors in this film give outstanding performances. The relationship dynamics are top notch, particularly the father, who is a stern man but as a character is perfectly balanced on the thin line between stern and mean-spirited. Thematically the film is about a right of passage into manhood, particularly for the younger boy, and the last 30 minutes of this film are incredibly resonant. Another great example of the films cinematography is the dinner scene when the father first arrives home. The camera begins centered onthe father, slowly pulling back to where the mother and grandmother each create the frame of the shot. It's an expressive shot showcasing the passing of a torch if you will, from the woman unto the father who must now teach the boys. Seriously, is every Russian filmmaker born with the unique ability to create the most breathtaking visuals? Must be in the water or something.
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