Reviewed by: Halyna Barannik
|Producer||Jennie Lew Tugend|
When I cry at movies, it is usually at the end, when all the action comes together for a touching finale or message. While watching “Return to Me”, all the people in the audience and I cried within the first ten minutes. And ten minutes later, we laughed. And laughed many times after that.
This is a heart-warming, sweet story about a man named Rob (David Duchovny) who loses his wife in a car accident. Through serendipity, destiny or the bungled matchmaking efforts of his friends, he meets a woman named Grace (Minnie Driver), with whom he feels instant rapport. Intrigued by her and her Irish/Italian family that runs an Irish-Italian restaurant, he asks Grace out. Their relationship develops under the caring and watchful eye of her family, especially her grandfather, played brilliantly by Carroll O’Connor, who raised Grace after her mother died and her father disappeared. Unbeknownst to Rob, Grace was the recipient of a heart transplant. What the audience knows and what eventually Rob finds out is that Grace received Rob’s late wife’s heart.
The acting in this movie is very fine, with excellent performances by all, including Bonnie Hunt, who plays Grace’s concerned sister-like friend and who wrote and directed this movie. The Irish-Italian clan that hover over Grace and her promising romance offer humorous thematic material, with Carroll O’Connor playing the doting grandfather. His gentle bantering with his colleagues at the restaurant, including Grace’s quintessential Italian uncle (Robert Loggia), as they fuss over Grace, is delightful script-writing and direction. The many comic moments and aspects are a good balance to the serious content of the car accident and heart disease. The romance between Rob and Grace develops without any sexual immorality or even undertones. At the end, the audience and I cried again, happily.
For the romantic at heart, this is a good movie. There is some bad language by Bonnie’s husband (played by James Belushi); the action may be slow for the younger crowd. But otherwise, this is clean entertainment, especially for adults, who will understand the slow development of a romance and the factors that can influence it.