Return (15)

Starring: Linda Cardellini, Michael Shannon

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The Independent Culture

Liza Johnson's sombre homecoming drama is notable as much for what it leaves out as what it puts in.

Linda Cardellini plays Kelli, a reservist who's back from a tour of duty in the Middle East to realise life in her Ohio hometown isn't the same. Her plumber-husband (Michael Shannon) has been looking after their two young girls, and the boss at the warehouse has kept open a job for her, but Kelli just can't reconnect with her old self. The film doesn't blitz us with flashback traumas or horror stories of combat – all she admits is to having seen some "weird shit" – and gradually we must imagine for ourselves what's behind her deepening sense of dislocation. John Slattery (of Mad Men) is good as a frowsy ex-soldier she encounters at an AA meeting who seems to understand what she has gone through. Its low-key rigour and understated melancholy won't be to everyone's taste, but Cardellini's performance – reflective, distressed, simmering – is eloquent testimony of a soul irrevocably changed by the experience of war.