THEN SHE FOUND ME (director/writer: Helen Hunt; screenwriters: Alice Arlen/Victor Levin/based on the novel by Elinor Lipman; cinematographer: Peter Donahue; editor: Pam Wise; music: David Mansfield; cast: Helen Hunt (April Epner), Bette Midler (Bernice Graves), Colin Firth (Frank Harte), Matthew Broderick (Ben), Ben Shankman (Freddy), Lynn Cohen (Trudy Epner), John Benjamin Hickey (Alan/Man), Salman Rushdie (Dr. Masani); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Pam Koffler/Katie Roumel/Christine Vachon/Connie Tavel/Ms. Hunt; ThinkFilm; 2007)
“About the most interesting thing about this uninteresting nervous dramedy is the casting of controversial writer Salman Rushdie as a gynecologist.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
About the most interesting thing about this uninteresting nervous dramedy is the casting of controversial writer Salman Rushdie as a gynecologist. This middlebrow emotionally-wracked ethnic romantic comedy regarding adoption and a childless aging woman marks the directorial debut of actress Helen Hunt. Writers Alice Arlen and Victor Levin base it on the novel by Elinor Lipman.
New York City elementary schoolteacher April Epner (Helen Hunt) is a 39-year-old who recently married her colleague, the immature momma’s boy Ben Green (Matthew Broderick). April was adopted by Jewish parents. She rejects adoption, as she desperately wants her own child and suffers because she can’t get pregnant and frets constantly about the ticking biological clock. The recent joyless marriage suddenly ends when the nebbish Ben relates to April that he thinks the marriage was a mistake and moves back with mom. Things only get worse when April’s ailing adoptive mom (Lynn Cohen), who tells her there’s no difference between raising your own child or an adopted child and that it might be best to adopt a Chinese child, suddenly dies. At the workplace, April is hit upon in a polite way by the recently divorced Britisher, Frank Harte (Colin Firth), who has two children (one of whom is a student in her class). A romance begins with the suburbanite Frank, who is trying to get over that his wife was an adulteress. The next big deal to come April’s way is that a blowsy, prevaricating local TV talk-show personality, Bernice Graves (Bette Midler), suddenly contacts her and over lunch in a high-end restaurant drops the bomb-shell that she’s her biological mother and wants to now become a big part of her life.
How April juggles all these emotionally trying issues becomes the source of the midlife crisis melodrama, that straddles the line between seriousness and absurdity. To elevate its mundane topical soap opera story, it allows the heroine to chant in Hebrew the Jewish prayers over meals and makes every effort to avoid becoming a farce and to instead become a realistic search for personal fulfillment by a real person. Even if it accomplishes its aim, which is debatable, it left me high and dry in its questionable resolution of April adopting a baby Chinese girl to give her life purpose.
REVIEWED ON 6/15/2008 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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