I loved Andrei Zvyagintsev's The Return which won the Golden Lion at Venice a few years back. It was simple, elegiac and inordinately powerful. As such, his second feature, The Banishment, has been eagerly awaited but this Competition entry sounds terribly disappointing.
The Hollywood Reporter's Kirk Honeycutt writes: "The Banishment" (Izgnanie) starts off like a thriller with a car roaring into the city and a clandestine surgery by a man to remove a bullet in his brother's arm. Then, ever so slowly, the movie falls into the clutches of long, solemn stares into space, meaningful drags on cigarettes, cryptic dialogue revealing little and a tiny drama that feels old, tired and empty of real purpose. In other words, Art House Pretension without apology or concern."
Time Out's Dave Calhoun was just as underwhelmed: "[It] plays like the wet dream of a Tarkovsky fanatic so much does it owe visually to Zvyagintsev's Russian forbear. It's only for its virtuoso image-making, though, that The Banishment can be applauded: its plot about a family from the city who fall apart during a sejourn at their remote country home when the wife annouces that she is pregnant by another man is unsatisfying and more conventional than Zvyagintsev would admit, such are his efforts to obscure and prolong its unfolding and his - certainly admirable - attempts to craft a tale that is devoid of place and time. There are many moments and scenes to enjoy... But the overall effect of The Banishment is wearying and disappointing."