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Then She Found Me - Preview & US reaction

Colin Firth and Helen Hunt in Then She Found Me

Preview by Jack Foley

HELEN Hunt makes her directorial debut with Then She Found Me, released in cinemas on September 19, 2008.

Based on the eponymous first novel by writer Elinor Lipman, the film tells the funny and moving story of one woman’s very unlikely path towards personal fulfillment.

Hunt also takes the lead role of April Epner, a New York schoolteacher – nearing her 40s – who was adopted at birth and who wants to have a baby of her own – a desire made that much stronger by the fact that she never knew her biological mother.

A snag in her plans presents itself when her sweet but immature husband Ben (Matthew Broderick) announces one night that their marriage was a mistake, leaving April devastated and bewildered.

With her life in disarray, one more surprising bolt is thrown April’s way in the form of Bernice (Bette Midler), an eccentric local talk show host, who declares herself to be April’s birth mother.

Despite the influence of her newfound mother and a relationship with Frank (Colin Firth), the father of one of her students, April’s once simple life begins to spiral out of control.

Hunt had long been a fan of Lipman’s novel and almost instantly viewed it as an ideal project to adapt and direct. But the subsequent film took over nine years to complete.

Sigourney Weaver even owned the rights at one stage, looking to develop the project herself, but when Hunt finally acquired the rights herself, she still had to be patient to ensure that everything turned out right.

The ensuing film has been gathering a strong reputation at film festivals, even winning the audience award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival.

And while it does contain substantial differences from Lipman’s novel, prompting some book-lovers to complain to the author herself, Lipman has backed Hunt’s vision, even going so far as to post a comment on her website stating: “I love the movie… It’s smart, wry, and very touching. The book is the book and the movie is its own entity. This I internalized early on when a wise friend told me: “Think of it as a movie based on characters suggested by the novel Then She Found Me“. “I do,” and added “Honey, if I don’t mind the changes, why should you?”

The film even impressed a lot of American critics when it was released – on a limited basis – into cinemas earlier this year.

The Hollywood Reporter, for instance, wrote that “with subtle laughs but solid emotional thrust, it will play very well with older audiences”.

While The New York Times wrote that “Then She Found Me, a serious comedy, is more impressive for what it refuses to do than for its modest accomplishment”.

Entertainment Weekly, meanwhile, felt that “Hunt’s performance is terrific and far more nuanced than her Oscar-winning turn in As Good as It Gets. As an actress, she helps make her director look very good indeed”.

And The Philadelphia Inquirer concluded: “By the closing scene, I felt privileged to be along for April’s emergence from the deep waters of daughterhood and her realization that when love knocks, the heart opens wide.”