Return to Me
Directed by Bonnie Hunt
Review by Matt Heffernan
It may seem like Minnie Driver has been mostly off the screen since Good Will Hunting. The truth is, she had one of her best years ever in 1999, making four exceptional films. However, the only one she appeared in was An Ideal Husband, which was never widely distributed. It was her voice alone that made it such a banner year, lending her talents to Tarzan, Princess Mononoke, and a bit part in the South Park movie. Now she makes herself seen again, in the directorial debut of Bonnie Hunt.
Bob Rueland (David Duchovny) loses his wife in a car accident, and her heart is donated. The recipient is Grace Briggs (Driver), who has suffered with heart disease for a long time. One year later, Grace has fully recovered and is working at the restaurant that her grandfather (Carroll O'Connor) owns. Bob meets her at the restaurant by chance, not knowing who she was, and falls instantly in love with her.
Neither have dated in the past year, and both have trepidations. Grace's are greater, since she is still embarrassed by her surgery, which she finds to make some men uncomfortable. Bob hasn't been so comfortable in a year, but it is only a matter of time before they find out the truth.
Return to Me is a pleasant, lightweight romantic comedy. It may not take many risks -- even though there is no attempt at plausibility -- but the story and characters are engaging enough. What makes it worthwhile are the supporting characters, including Hunt herself, who plays Grace's best friend. O'Connor is a real treat with his small group of friends, including Robert Loggia as his Italian chef. They are kind of like the guys in High Fidelity in about 50 years, only now they have narrowed their top-five lists to just the best ever.
Duchovny shows that he can be a competent romantic lead, even though his emotional range is still a little tight. Driver comes to the rescue, showing her natural talent for playing vulnerable characters. All the characters are so sweet, it's difficult to dislike the film despite its glaring contrivances.
Hunt also co-wrote the screenplay, and her humor is now able to go beyond her persona. I think if she tried to go for something that's less "high-concept" she could really score. For now, this is a good first effort, and something to build on.
For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
Return to Me (2000)
Video Pick of the Week
Guide to Star Ratings
Review © 2000 Matt Heffernan