Liza Johnson’s Return introduces something new to the familiar story of military service members adjusting to life back home after deployment.
Following a recognizable trajectory, the film opens with Kelli (Linda Cardinelli) returning to small-town Ohio following a year-long tour of duty in the Middle East as a National Guard Reservist. After a happy homecoming with family and friends, her once-normal life begins to unravel. She grows bored of the factory warehouse job that she held for 12 years before her deployment and abruptly quits: “This is a giant waste of time. I can’t do it anymore.” She struggles to reconnect with her husband Mike (Michael Shannon). Their marriage suffers and she begins to drink. Trouble with the law ensues.