Then She Found Me
Review by Jack Foley
HELEN Hunt has been trying to get Then She Found Me made for almost 10 years. It’s been worth the effort, as her labour of love adaptation of Elinor Lipman’s best-seller is a richly rewarding experience.
Hunt plays Jewish teacher April, an adopted child who yearns to have a baby of her own with husband Ben (Matthew Broderick). When Ben announces he’s leaving, though, April is left to pick up the pieces, painfully aware that the clock is ticking biologically.
She slowly begins to get her life back on track with the help of neurotic single father Frank (Colin Firth) and – most surprisingly – her birth mother (Bette Midler), who has recently found her in a bid to make amends for abandoning April at birth.
Hunt wrote, produced, stars in and directs this emotionally engaging tale that boasts widespread appeal for older, more discerning viewers who have had to (or are about to) confront some of the issues it raises – most notably, betrayal and the difficulty of starting a family.
It’s clear that, as director, Hunt has borrowed in style from one of her mentors, James Brooks (of As Good As It Gets fame), and therefore allows the actors to take centre stage, while simultaneously allowing them to work from a script that’s both witty and insightful.
As a result, she draws notable performances from Firth, less polite and well-meaning than usual, and Midler, whose vain mother is made to work hard for her daughter’s affections.
Hunt, too, is typically excellent as April, expertly conveying the confusion of a character who feels let down by just about everyone and everything – her faith included.
There are odd moments when the narrative fails to hold together as convincingly as it might (Broderick’s character is certainly one of the weak links), while an appearance from Salman Rushdie is more diverting than inspired.
But in the main, this is a very assured feature film debut for Hunt as director, that continues to showcase her wonderful talents as an actress as well. It’s an emotionally engaging piece of cinema that deserves to find a wide and appreciative audience.
Running time: 100mins
UK DVD Release: February 23, 2009
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