The long-lost father of two Russian brothers suddenly returns home. He proposes a fishing trip to make up for lost time. His effort to impose discipline escalates into an alarming test of strength for the boys.
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A father appears after a decade long absence, his two boys embody the mixed emotions of his return, one of suspicion / hostility, the other of desire / reconciliation. Zvyaginstev presents his spaces openly, frames divided, and characters off center. Mother nurtures fear, father pushes you towards it. The sons carry his burden, literally and figuratively. ultimately burying him with his reasons and secrets.
This is one of my favourite films of all time. Works on so many levels - drama, thriller, mystery, allegory - and most of all, the uncertainty and hidden aspects of life. Keeps you guessing, while driving deeper and deeper into its characters' actions and motives. Sensational acting and tremendous cinematography. But it IS a Russian film, so be patient through the long shots and rare dialogue.
There is no need to compare this movie... Its depth lies in its gestures and unspoken words... and the mystery of death as the actor playing the elder boy had died before the movie was even released...
That disquietening camera movement and those ominous silences are so effective because they indicate our straying into a deceptively serene and very dangerous world, where the unwary are in constant fear of themselves and the shadows that come out of the forest. Not a film about children at all; rather it concerns the peril of our innocence in a violent world.
many people compares this to tarkovky or bresson's work, well, sure this has astonishing cinematography and super-gorgeous visual image, one of the best of 2000's, but for substance, this is nowhere near tarkovsky or bresson..
It is a brutal coming-of-age for the older of the two sons who follow their father (whom they barely know -- the father in question having been recently released from prison) on "vacation" to a remote island, the "purpose" being that of getting to know each other. Beautiful photography. Also, terrifying.