The Return

Rating: * * * * 1/2(out of 5)
Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev
Running time: 111 minutes
Language: Russian with Japanese subtitles
Currently showing
[See Japan Times movie listings]

Perhaps the most dispiriting aspect of the global corporate culture that's spread like mold over the past two decades or so is its ideal of uniformity. Consumers are happiest, so we're told, when they get the same thing everywhere, every time. This is most obvious in the retail sector: a Gap, Starbucks or McDonalds "experience" will be much the same whether you walk in off the street in Beijing, Boston or Beirut.

It's also true of Hollywood. Most movies these days pack all the surprise of a Big Mac, their story arcs as severely regimented and controlled as the immutable taste of two all-beef patties and "special sauce." It's almost impossible not to anticipate where a film's going after 30 minutes, let alone if you've seen the trailer. Surprise, curiosity, the delicious feeling of terra incognita -- all these are getting harder to find at the movies these days.

So, sit back and really enjoy the ride as "The Return" takes you on an intensely compelling journey -- destination unknown. It drags you deep into a desolate, remote corner of Russia, and teases you with its plot contours.