Saturday, September 21, 2013

Raising Cain

by Drew Martin
After loving Elena, Andrei Zvyagintsev's third and most recent film, I watched his first, The Return from 2003. It is about an absentee father who returns to his teenage sons after being dead to the world for twelve years. He takes them for what is supposed to be a brief fishing trip but it turns into a multi-day trek that is a mix of abusive parenting and commando training. The brothers recall that their mother said he is a pilot, which would explain his survival skills. The younger son, Vanya, questions this because he is not wearing a uniform. It is as if this returned Ulysses is crunching twelve years of his fatherhood into a crash course to turn his sons into men. In one of his many "I hate you" protests, Vanya, shouts that they were better off with their mother and grandmother. This is of course contrary to what we see in the beginning of the film when he is bullied for being too scared to jump off a high platform of a jetty. I found it especially interesting to watch The Return after recently reading, Raising Cain, which was co-written by Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson, two of the country's leading child psychologists who specialize in adolescent boys. It is a fascinating look at how boys are typically raised and how that affects their relationships for life. The main focus of the thesis is that boys are told to keep a stiff upper lip, while girls are given more emotional support to deal with their shortcomings.

Click here to watch the trailer for The Return.