HUNT FOR A WOMBMATE
By LOU LUMENICK
April 25, 2008 — FEW Oscar winners have disappeared from the spotlight as quickly as Helen Hunt, who followed her Best Actress win for “As Good as It Gets” with a quartet of high-profile leads including “What Women Want” in the fall of 2000.
After sporadic appearances in the likes of the
little-seen “A Good Woman” (2004, as Scarlett Johansson’s mother), Hunt has taken control of her career, not only starring but also making an auspicious debut as a writer-director on a smart little bittersweet comedy “Then She Found Me.”
She plays April Epner, a 39-year-old teacher whose yearning for motherhood is dealt a blow with the collapse of her marriage to an immature co-worker (Matthew Broderick, real-life ex-boyfriend and co-star in the 1987 film “Project X”).
April has barely recovered from the shock when her adopted mother dies and her birth mother, an overbearing TV interviewer named Bernice (Bette Midler), comes out of the woodwork wanting to be her best friend.
The reserved April is skeptical of Bernice’s motives – especially after her newfound mom claims April is the product of a one-night stand with Steve McQueen. She’s also leery of Frank, the newly divorced father of one of her students, played by Colin Firth, once again in Mark Darcy mode.
Even as she’s being wooed by both of them and she begins bonding with Frank’s kids, April is hit with another surprise – she’s pregnant by her ex, who tries to seduce her into giving their marriage another try.
While there are plenty of laughs, Hunt doesn’t play this for farce.
Even Midler gives perhaps the most restrained, and arguably the most winning, performance of her screen career. There are also nice supporting performances by John Benjamin Hickey as Bernice’s possessive assistant, and Salman Rushdie as a gynecologist.
As a director, Hunt allows herself to repeatedly be photographed in a less-than-flattering manner in “Then She Found Me.” While it’s great to see an actress in her age group who isn’t Botoxed to death, frankly it would be a lot less distracting if she weren’t so skeletally thin.
THEN SHE FOUND ME
One for the grown-ups.