Film: Stunningly-acted “Return” now available for in-home viewing
March 9th, 2012
Omaha, NE – There’s a stunningly-acted movie just waiting for you in the privacy of your own home. From the Movieha podcast, Ryan Syrek and Matt Lockwood take a look at Return, available now On Demand.
Ryan: It’s hard for subtle, nuanced character sketches to find a solid foothold in huge multiplexes.
Matt: Is that because you are famous for using the words subtle and nuanced as synonyms for boring and yawn-inducing?
Ryan: No, it’s because quiet films that hinge on detailed performances can’t feature trailers set to squealing rock songs and show off copious explosions.
Matt: Hey, you leave copious explosions out of this.
Ryan: Return, the new film from writer/director Liza Johnson, is exactly the sort of indie gem I’m talking about. And as many other movies like this have done, the distributor has chosen to go the theater route and home pay-per-view, where it’s available right now.
Matt: The movie follows Kelli, played by the underrated Linda Cardellini, probably best known for her work on TV’s ER. When Kelli returns from an unspecified war overseas, she finds that her life with her husband, played by the always-brilliant Michael Shannon, is suddenly insignificant.
Ryan: This launches her on a destructive bender, as she begins to question every aspect of her existence, even her role as a mother. Although the exploration of the soldier coming home is nothing new, it’s incredibly rare to see the gender roles play out like this. And it invites some really compelling discussion about socially accepted domestic roles.
Matt: Of course, it does this very slowly. Like, very very slowly, as the film kind of crawls along without any moments of surprise or suspense. The most exciting thing that happened for me was realizing one of the other alcoholics was the dude from Mad Men.
Ryan: For me, Cardellini’s performance was the thrill ride. She never falls into melodramatic stereotype, as even her seemingly destructive decisions have a basis in reasonable thought. As much as women in the military has been discussed, women coming home from the military almost never is.
Matt: I will say that I like the fact that they never tried to justify Kelli’s personality change with some battlefield moment. She’s not a changed person because she saw a grenade go off or whatever. She just can’t understand how her old life can possibly be as important or consequential as what she was doing overseas.
Ryan: Throw in a killer supporting turn by Shannon, and you’ve got yourself one of those works of quiet genius.
Matt: Let’s not go too far.
Ryan: Oh, I’m going far my friend. Even though she won’t be, Cardellini should be recognized with awards for what is one of the finest female performances I’ve seen in a while.
Matt: Yeah, that’s pretty far you’ve gone.
Ryan: And if you want to see which of us is right, check it out on Pay-Per-View or head down to the Mary Riepma Ross theater in Lincoln, where the film is showing later this month.
Editorial note: The Movieha podcast is produced in partnership with The Reader and is available at thereader.com.
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