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(2006), PG-13 ["Hard" R-13*] (1hr 19min)

Analysis Date
CAP Final Score
CAP Influence Density
November 11, 2006
42 out of 100

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(While the Scriptural references are certainly not subjective, my commentary may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)

If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary.

(2006), PG-13 ["Hard" R-13*] -- ...there is something very important to Joanna in LaSalle.

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Rosey Film Productions LLC, Biscayne Pictures, Intrepid Pictures, Raygun Productions, Rogue Pictures
Distribution (US): Rogue Pictures, Focus Features
Director(s): Asif Kapadia
Producer(s): Marc D. Evans, Steve Gaub, Trevor Macy, Aaron Ryder, Ron Schmidt, Jeffrey Silver
Written by: Adam Sussman
Cinematography/Camera: Roman Osin
Music: Dario Marianelli
Film Editing: Claire Simpson
Casting: Avy Kaufman
Production Design: Thérèse DePrez
Art Direction: Steve Joyner, Jeff Knipp
Viewed At: Driftwood Theater 6

As Terry Stahl (Peter O'Brien) speeds to the hospital in LaSalle, Texas with his wife who was brutally assaulted, Terry crashes into a parked station wagon with 11 year old Joanna Mills (Darrian McClanahan) and her father, Ed (Sam Shepard) as Ed tries to comfort young Joanna at the roadside. This collision forms a mystic connection which will haunt Joanna for years.

At 25 tears old Joanna (Sarah Michelle Gellar) travels the Midwest as a saleswoman for a trucking company. And she is good at it. Eventually, her travels bring her to Texas where she feels strangely drawn to the small torn of LaSalle, like there is something there from her past. It is not a matter of simple deja vu -- there is something very important to Joanna in LaSalle.

Joanna's nightmares repeatedly thrust her into a morbid scene of a young woman at the doors of a barn being brutalized by a man. Somehow Joanna knows she is connected to the woman in her nightmares. Somehow LaSalle has the answers to Joanna's mental torture. Somehow Joanna knows she has returned to the place where it all began ... to where the connection was made ... to she with whom Joanna is connected.

This film is a difficult story to follow to provide any more of a Summary/Commentary of the plot/story. It seems the only way to make sense of the story is to have written it. So I will end the Summary/Commentary here and move into the main reason for this service. But let me preface that with this. The caliber of a film might be measured by the caliber of the audience drawn by it, right? Theater security told me they had to eject about 40 teens from a showing of this PG-13 film. Bad influences do corrupt good manners, eh? [1 Cor. 15:33] Maybe this was an isolated incident. Or maybe it wasn't. At the age when it is cool to be bad*, maybe one of the "cool to be bad" kids set the rest of them off? Or maybe the content of the film did?

* Karan Omidvari at St. Michael's Medical Center in Newark reveals that "impressionable adolescents" (she was speaking of teenagers) are at the age when its good to be "bad."

Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
The lowest possible score in any one investigation area is zero. The Return  earned a score of zero in the Wanton Violence/Crime investigation area. [Prov. 16:29] This film is easily as violent and with as much demonstration of criminal behavior as many R-rated films. Criminal behaviors portrayed center around sexual assault, including the stalking, luring and baiting of a little girl. Some of the matters of sexual assault were incorporated into this Wanton Violence/Crime investigation area rather than the Sexual Immorality investigation area since in some portrayals of sexual assault the degree of violence overshadowed the sexual content. Though demonstrations of sexual assault would fit into either the Wanton Violence/Crime or Sexual Immorality investigation area, the CAP analysis model will not permit incorporation of any one instance of ignominy into more than one investigation area. Thus no duplication of scoring loss is assured. While the scoring distribution across the six CAP investigation areas is affected by the placement of items of scoring loss, the final score is not.

Impudence/Hate (I)
The Return  is exceptionally light for the typical PG-13 film in profanity. But what was there is vile enough. While the three/four letter word vocabulary was used only three times, one of them was the most foul of the foul words. [Col. 3:8, Eph. 4:29]

Sexual Immorality (S)
As explained above in Wanton Violence/Crime, some of the issues of sexual brutality found by this investigation area were incorporated into the Wanton Violence/Crime investigation area. However, additional issues of sexually immoral behavior such as a man and a woman making out while lying down were incorporated into this Sexual Immorality investigation area. As explained above, it doesn't matter much into which investigation area individual issues of ignominy are captured and revealed as long as they get captured and revealed. The bottom line is that there are several demonstrations of sexually immoral as well as sexually heinous behavior in this film. [1Ths. 4:1 - 7] Besides, when entertainment includes matters of sexual violence, it is still sexual. We don't concern ourselves with "context" (see the BEFORE You Read On... link) God is quite stern about sexually immoral behaviors. Revelation 22:15 is just one example. Just one.

Drugs/Alcohol (D)
While no drunkenness was noted in the entire 79 minutes of this film, there are a number of examples of booze and drinking plus one instance of abuse of prescription drugs. Since and especially because this is a teen film, the issue cries out to Eph. 5:18. Though it is not a sin to drink, it is a sin to get drunk OR to influence to get drunk or to drink in defiance such as underage drinking. A study by the American College of Physicians (ACP) has found an undeniable link between the presentation of alcoholic beverages (and tobacco) in and as entertainment and arrogance/defiance with them by adolescents. And teaching/causing youth to abuse inebriating substances by emboldening youth with them in and as entertainment invokes Luke 17:2. If alcoholic beverages in entertainment were not a problem for our young, why is there and why has there been such a push to get and keep booze commercials off prime time broadcast TV? Even the University of Connecticut corroborates the ACP finding.

Offense to God (O)
God warns us of using His name in vain. Any use of His name in any way other than in respect, reverence or thoughtful discussion and the like is in vain. A couple of the performers in this film are guilty. "Vain" is shav' {shawv}: emptiness, nothingness, vanity, such as an expletive. With or without the four letter expletive, the use of God's name in any way other than respect, reverence or thoughtful discussion/teaching is in vain. That includes the popular three syllable sentence with His name trailing it AND the misuse of Jesus' name. [Deut. 5:11]

Murder/Suicide (M)
There were no murders or suicides noted in this film. The behaviors which led to the death of Terry's wife were incorporated into the Wanton Violence/Crime investigation area.


If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ] or bold. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.


  • Prov. 16:29 A violent man entices his neighbor and leads him down a path that is not good. [The issue is the violence. "A violent man" can be a man, woman OR the men/women demonstrating the violent behavior/action on the screen, too. Now you know why violence, especially in and as entertainment, can embolden the viewer into aggression, especially youth. See also "Joint Statement on the Impact of Entertainment Violence on Children Congressional Public Health Summit" . Further, God speaks darkly of violence 56 times in the Old and New Testament of the KJV. And see 1 Cor. 15:33 below.]
  • Col. 3:8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander (injurious speech), and filthy language [aischrologia: foul speaking, low and obscene speech] from your lips.
  • Eph. 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
  • 1Ths. 4:1 - 7 Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his [or her] own body [which includes control of drives, touching, seeking, lusting (even after images), promiscuity, etc.] in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; [Be master of your body and urges, not a slave to them.] and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish [unforgiven] men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.
  • Rev. 22:15 Outside [of Heaven] are the dogs, those [unforgiven] who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
  • Eph. 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. ["Wine" can be any intoxicating substance including illegal drugs or abuse of prescription drugs. The issue is do not abuse the body by intoxicating it.]
  • Deut. 5:11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences and present it to younger and younger audiences every year] when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, pay for it, enjoy it, want it, submit to it. I call attention to Ps. 12:8 to warn of the creeping desensitizing power of "entertainment."]
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man [by his influence] spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 Be not deceived: evil [kakov: of a bad nature, not such as it ought to be] communications corrupt good manners.
  • Rom. 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
  • Jude 1:4 For there are certain men* crept in unawares [secretly slipped in among us], who were before of old ordained to this condemnation [whose condemnation was written about long ago], ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [a license for immorality], and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
  • Luke 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. [Offend: skandalizo {skan-dal-id'-zo} - scandalize; to entice to sin; to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey; to cause to fall away.]
  • Ps. 119:133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me [let no sin rule over me].
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. ["Evil" includes all things that are sinful.]


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
    (The objective heart of the CAP Analysis Model, independent of and insulated from the Summary / Commentary section.)

    The Return (2006) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
  • stranger luring/baiting little girl
  • bloody injuries on a little girl
  • assault of a woman by a man, repeatedly, including attempted rape
  • implied self injury with seeing knife point on the skin but actual cutting not seen
  • beating
  • trespassing
  • breaking and entering
  • stalking
  • additional assault, including to kill
  • positioning for suicide
  • vehicular wreck
  • pursuit to do harm
  • defensive killing by knife
  • traffic collision

    Impudence/Hate (I)
  • two uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • one use of the most foul of the foul words
  • lie in innuendo

    Sexual Immorality (S)
  • man and woman making out lying down
  • images of assault with inappropriate touch, repeatedly
  • accosting of a young girl
  • rape actions

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • bar, repeatedly
  • booze, repeatedly
  • drinking, repeatedly
  • abuse of prescription drugs

    Offense to God (O)
  • one use of God's name in vain with the four letter expletive and once without
  • suggestion of evil/unholy forces and control, repeatedly
  • inexplicable events and sounds, suggestion unholy source
  • eye color change
  • mirror reflection diffusing into two images
  • images of someone else in mirror
  • impossible appearance of a little girl
  • image of someone else rather than the real person

    Murder/Suicide (M)
  • none noted

  • Christian Educators Association International



    There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our more than eight years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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