TIFF 2007: Then She Found Me
Helen Hunt falls back on the chick-flick formula in her directorial debut
by – Susan Green
Cast: Helen Hunt, Colin Firth, Bette Midler, Matthew Broderick, Ben Shenkman and Lynn Cohen
Director: Helen Hunt
Screenwriters: Helen Hunt, Vic Levin and Alice Arlen
Producers: Pamela Koffler, Katie Roumel, Christine Vachon, Connie Tavel and Helen Hunt
Genre: Comedy drama
Rating: Not yet rated
Running time: 99 min
Release date: TBD
Helen Hunt as an observant Jew? Sure, I can believe that, if the lead actress also happens to be the co-writer and a producer of her inauspicious directorial debut. Cue the klezmer music.
In Then She Found Me, based on the novel by Elinor Lipman, Hunt’s character is April Epner, a 39-year-old teacher desperate to conceive a child before her biological clock winds down. This effort alienates her nebbish husband Benjamin (Matthew Broderick), who is something of a baby himself. Their break-up sex essentially telegraphs the unoriginal idea that this woman will become pregnant by the wrong person at the wrong time, and even a fake fortuneteller would be able to predict there’s a mensch waiting just around the corner.
April hasn’t yet digested Benjamin’s sudden departure when she meets Frank (Colin Firth, once again a charming neurotic). A single father of two young children who writes book-jacket blurbs for a living, he seems to fall madly in love with her at first sight. The rest of the clunky story is taken up with the inevitable misunderstandings and missteps that keep them from attaining happily-ever-after.
Oh, yeah, and don’t forget Bette Midler as the adopted April’s biological mother, a loquacious TV talk-show host named Bernice. Among her funniest bits: The suggestion that Steve McQueen was the baby-daddy in question four decades earlier. The Divine Miss M’s wacky wavelength ups the ante and energy of a film mired in sentimental hogwash.
Hunt gravitates toward maudlin emotions, the lingua franca of too many chick flicks, when not crafting an elongated sitcom. In addition, she tosses in some cameo appearances by well-known performers and, for no good reason, a certain author cursed with a fatwa. Oy vey! His Islamic fundamentalist enemies would no doubt hate the sympathetic depiction of the Chosen People, even if one of them is portrayed by a blonde shiksa.
For complete coverage of the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival, search boxoffice.com using keyword “TIFF 2007.”