Published Apr 25, 2008It is clear that care, passion and heart were involved in the making of Then She Found Me. Helen Hunt has crafted a clever and insightful look at the neuroses that stem from adoption and motherhood while demonstrating a self-assured and consistent hand. Unfortunately, this film also shows signs of first-time filmmaking, suffering from occasional staginess and contrivance.
April Epner (Helen Hunt) is a 39-year-old schoolteacher who feels her biological clock ticking. Experiencing ambivalence about her adoption, April is adamant about having a child of her own through conventional means, while feeling an overall sense of comfort (and occasional frustration) with her sick mother (Lynn Cohen).
A snag is thrown into her plans when Ben (Matthew Broderick), her strangely immature husband, decides that he doesnt want to be married anymore, sending her off with a goodbye boink on the kitchen floor. Subsequently, her mother passes away, only to be immediately replaced by Bernice (Bette Midler), an abrasive and self-involved talk show host who claims to be Aprils biological mother. While coping with all of this, April pursues an idiosyncratic relationship with Frank (Colin Firth), the father of one of her students.
As this film is essentially the telling of Aprils story, it is no surprise that the chief focus of development is on her character. She is well sketched, demonstrating self-deprecating humour, believable insecurities and surprisingly logical mood swings. Her plight is handled with care without bridging either cliché or tragedy. Sadly, the secondary characters in the film werent given as much thought, as both Ben and Frank act more as ciphers for Aprils development than as believably unique human beings.
Hunts direction shows an understanding of pacing and tone, as the overall structure of the film is clever and subtle. On the other hand, individual scenes are often quite stagy and awkward, struggling with actor chemistry and naturalistic reactions. This causes one to always be aware that the film is being directed. The writing suffers from a similar flaw, which finds the same syntax and vernacular being spouted from different characters with varying motivations. Its distracting and detracts from some of the overall integrity.
Then She Found Me is a decent, if flawed, movie, which seems to have a strangely cynical overall message of resisting struggle and settling for lifes disappointments. Fans of female-centric character dramas should be pleased. (TVA)