Return To Me - movie review (March 31, 2000)

Sometimes you find love in the most unexpected places.

Bob Rueland (David Duchovny) has been running on automatic pilot ever since a personal tragedy the year previous but his life gets a serious kick start when he meets Grace Briggs (Minnie Driver), the spunky granddaughter of a local tavern's proprietor. Grace has a secret that she fears will scare Bob away, but the whole truth of the secret, something that even she did not know, threatens to drive the two apart forever.

Pretty short synopsis, huh? Well, this is another one of those films that if I tell you any of the story, it's gonna give away entirely too much, and I hate doing that, so that's all you get.

The one-sheet, trailer and TV spot for this film portrays it as a romantic comedy, which in many ways, it is. However, there is a thread running through the film that is darker than is typical for a romantic comedy, but it adds a nice dimension to the film. My major complaint about this film is that a vital plot point is telegraphed almost immediately into the film. If I had received the script, I would have started the film about 15 to 20 minutes later and conveyed the information contained in those 15 to 20 minutes in another fashion.  Because the coming plot point is so completely expected, the drama and suspense of the beginning of the film is completely lost and feels manipulative at best.

David Duchovny ("Playing God" and TVs "The X-Files") is terrific as the romantic lead who, when he reawakens, is quite the charmer. Minnie Driver ("Circle of Friends", "Big Night", "Grosse Pointe Blank", "Good Will Hunting" and "Tarzan" (voice only)) is also terrific as the long-sheltered young lady who must find her own way in the world. The chemistry between Duchovny and Driver is wonderful, making it a pleasure to watch the growing attraction between the two. They are also supported by a wonderful cast of actors in smaller roles: Bonnie Hunt ("Rain Man", "Dave", "Only You", "Random Hearts" and "The Green Mile" and she is also director and co-writer of this film) as Megan, who, while busy with a husband and a bundle of children, is Grace's best friend and confidante; James Belushi ("About Last Night" and "Taking Care of Business") as Megan's husband Joe; Carroll O'Connor (TVs "All in the Family" and TVs "In the Heat of the Night") as Grace's grandfather Marty; and Robert Loggia ("Jagged Edge", "Prizzi?' Honor", "Big", "I Love Trouble" and "Independence Day") as Angelo, Marty's good friend and employee. O'Connor and Loggia are two of the group of four old friends who get together for cards and discussion, and those scenes are just a joy to watch - ensemble acting at its best.

While the writing could be a little tighter and structured a bit better, the talents of the actors in bringing out their characters makes this film a definite recommend. And yes, while it may qualify as a chick-flick, I think the guys would enjoy the humour in the film.

As I understand it, there are a second round of sneak previews being shown this Saturday night before the film opens in a few weeks. I would highly recommend catching one of the sneaks if you can, but if not, definitely when the film is officially released.


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