Forgive me, I'm multitasking and writing this while half-watching the behind the scenes of Charlie's Angels TV movie that was left on when I arrived home. I just came from seeing The Return, an incredible new film directed by Andrei Zvyagintsev. That name should tell you he's Russian, and the little I've read about this film compares it to that most revered of all Russian directors, Andrei Tarkovsky, only more accesible.

That's a fair assessment, but Zvyagintsev proves himself a great filmmaker in its own right that all the Tarkovsky-like pauses in this work can't obscure. The story opens with flooded, voluminous shots of water, as a group of teenager dive off a stone tower into a sea that seems position at the absolute edge of the world (or in this case, the Gulf of Finland). Two of them are brothers. 13 year-old Vanya, wracked with a fear of heights, is afraid to jump in. Andrei, his older brother, coaxes him on, but eventually runs of with the other boys, leaving Ivan alone until his mother rescues him hours later. The tower, abandonment and rescue will reverberate throughout the rest of the film.

The following day, the boys arrive home to find their father has returned for the first time since leaving twelve years before. Cold, rigid, and unapproachable, he nonetheless takes the boys on a three day camping/fishing trip that eventually leads them to a deserted island. As drenching rains periodically reappear, Vanya's surliness and suscipion is forever at odds with his father's tough exterior and unapproachability. With a subdued soundtrack consisting mostly of ambient noise, the film is beatific in its atmosphere yet very much a thriller, with a graceful, masterfully executed, genuinely surprising climax.

The three leads are all good, especially Konstantin Lavronenko as the father, who, as Peter Keough already noted in his review, rather resembles an evil George Clooney. His character is one of the trickiest I've seen in awhile. He could've come off as Rober Duvall in The Great Santini, but as unlikable as he occasionally seems, you catch glimpses of tenderness and love for the sons he hardly knows. The cinematography is also wonderful; gorgeous without being too flashy. What's in the box? The beauty of this film lies in that question.