“Return” features Linda Cardellini in a difficult, important role


I was late to the Freaks & Geeks party and only saw random episodes until a marathon a couple of years ago. But watching was still a matter of love at first sight.

One thing I don’t get, though, is why most of the freaks and geeks have gone on to be fairly successful in other roles, but the great Linda Cardellini hasn’t. (As good as she was in ER, her character rarely was featured.)

That might be about to change, with the release of Return.

Cardellini plays Kelli, a soldier who has returned home from the war. She can’t wait to get back into a small town routine with her husband and kids. Unfortunately, things aren’t the way she left them — and she’s not sure how to find her place in a group of family and friends that have gone on without her.

Here’s the trailer.

Stories about vets returning from their tour of duty are plentiful, but having a woman play the vet is a rarity (The Lucky Ones with Rachel McAdams was the only other one we could come up with). Writer/director Liza Johnson deliberately set out to make a film in the tradition of Safe and A Woman Under the Influence about “strong female protagonists who don’t quite fit in with their world.”

Johnson interviewed a number of women soldiers as she researched the film and learned that their perspective is very different from men. “Expectations and pressures are different for women,” she told IndieWire. “Dealing with rage is harder for them and not as acceptable as it is for men.”

Return was critically acclaimed when it premiered at the Cannes Directors Fortnight last year and Cardellini’s performance is said to be riveting. And even reviewers who didn’t care for the film praised Cardellini. She talked about playing Kelli right before the Cannes premier.

Look for Return in limited release February 10; it will be available on iTunes starting February 28. Despite the somewhat bleak subject matter, this seems to be an important movie for women to support. What do you think? Will this help Linda Cardellini move beyond Lindsay Wier? Do you know of other female veteran movies we need to watch?

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