Film - The Return

The Return

Chris Smith returned to Raindance Film Festival to watch The Return...

Jack has come back to London after several years away. A safe-cracker in need of work, he finds himself struggling when his discovers that his former partner-in-crime have moved on to different things and no-one seems to want him around any more. Jack decides to target rich business men and in doing so, finds himself involved with Laura, who in turn points him towards Duke, a wealthy and very unpleasant gangster. Duke has £30k stashed away in a safe and it should be an easy job but something isn't quite right and Jack quickly finds himself on the wrong side of a lie...

Shot on location in the areas of London director, Oliver Nias, frequents The Return is a tense film noir to rival anything Hollywood is capable of putting out. Filmed in monochrome, The Return shows no sign of its "shoestring" budget. It focuses on how Jack interacts with those around him, the alienation he faces, and how quickly everything starts to go wrong. While the monologue is more a mainstay of neo-noir instead of the classics from the 1940s, it doesn't feel overdone he. Rather than a petulant drawl a-la Sin City, The Return gives us an insight into Jack's thinking as he recounts his story. We know right from the start this won't end well and Jack takes his time leading us to the bitter, hair-raising twist of a climax.

The photogenic Sam Donnelly and Amie Burns Walker as Jack and Laura are perfectly cast, both bringing dangerous charisma to each scene. The choice to shoot in monochrome was a smart one, brilliantly re-creating the feel of classic noir. Characters are bathed in thick shadows and crisp white light at the right moments as well as looking downright beautiful.

Nias plays around with the film's narrative structure eschewing the traditional format of beginning-middle-end to create a Byzantine labyrinth of deceit that - exactly in line with the marketing - doesn't reveal itself until the final frame. This playing around with events can be a little confusing at times and it's very easy to lose track of everything that's happening if concentration falters for a second. While the pacing is good and everything happens for a reason, there are the occasional moments when the tension or action needs to pick up ever-so-slightly just to keep everyone alert. However, film noir is a genre of subtlety and Nias cannot be faulted for aiming for this above all else.

While a little rough around the edges, The Return is a truly amazing British film noir and the debut of a very promising young director.

Image - IMDb
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