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The choice: kill her or forgive her?

PUBLISHED: 12:45 11 December 2008 | UPDATED: 17:11 16 August 2010

IN many ways a companion piece to 2004 s brooding The Return, Russian auteur Andrei Zvyagintsev s latest film The Banishment, a visually impressive meditation on betrayal, desire and the gravitational force exerted by blood relations, secures the director

IN many ways a companion piece to 2004's brooding The Return, Russian auteur Andrei Zvyagintsev's latest film The Banishment, a visually impressive meditation on betrayal, desire and the gravitational force exerted by blood relations, secures the director's place at the forefront of a new generation of Soviet cinema.

The film opens with a typically enigmatic but masterfully composed shot. Mark (Alexander Baluev) is seen wandering across a windswept landscape with a gunshot wound in his arm. He makes his way towards his stone-faced brother Alex (Konstantin Lavronenko), who helps him remove the bullet. They exchange few words and no information about how he was shot is given.

Cut to Alex and wife Vera (Maria Bonnevie) taking their son Kir (Maxim Shibaev) and daughter Eva (Katya Kulkina) to the countryside to live in the family's ancestral home. But any hint of newfound family unity is quickly shattered when Vera tells Alex she's pregnant with the child of another man. Alex seeks his brother's advice and is told he has two choices: kill her or forgive her. Forgiveness wins out, but the confession turns out just to be the first of a series of startling revelations that propel the three into ruin and downfall.

There's an all-pervading sense that there's some deeper secret lurking somewhere out of sight that is never brought to light and even the title works as a multi-layered metaphor that is open to several interpretations. The Banishment is released on DVD tomorrow.

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