The Sydney Herald Then She Found Me Gabriel Wilder, Review September 26, 2008 Helen Hunt keeps things moving at a fair clip in her first feature as a director: within the first 15 minutes her character, April, has been married and separated, has buried her adoptive mother, been found by her birth mother and met a new man. April is also grappling with an all-consuming desire to have a child. Frank (Colin Firth, pictured, with Hunt) is the father of two children she teaches. He is still bruised after being abandoned by his wife and, although dedicated to the children he is now rearing alone, feels deeply oppressed by the task. Into this depressing scenario blows Bernice (Bette Midler), a larger-than-life talk-show host and April’s biological mother, who is looking to bond with the daughter she gave up 39 years earlier. Despite her trade â€” digging out truths from others â€” Bernice is duplicitous yet somehow disarming at the same time. Everyone, with the exception of Midler, looks terrible. Hunt’s mostly unmade-up face is gaunt and drawn. When Frank, no dashing Mr Darcy himself, tells her she’s beautiful, you wonder for a moment who he is talking to. But these are lives in a state of flux â€” when April finally falls pregnant, she blooms. It sounds dismal but it’s not. The performances are charming – Firth and Midler, in particular, bring a much-needed warmth and optimism. The fine script has funny lines and situations tucked in among the sadness and Hunt directs with a deft hand, ensuring the film never gets mired in misery. http://www.smh.com.au/cgi-bin/common/popupPrintArticle.pl?path=/articles/2008/09/26/1222217504701.html
If youâ€™ve asked yourself whatever happened to Helen Hunt lately, then hereâ€™s your answer â€“ â€˜Then She Found Meâ€™ is her self-assured directorial debut; a slightly uneven but wholly enjoyable dramedy that should fit right in at home and find a more appreciative audience after itâ€™s virtually ignored theatrical trip. Helen Hunt – who scored a Best Actress award for â€˜As Good As It Getsâ€™ in 1997 and went on to the 2000 holiday season double whammy of â€˜What Women Wantâ€™ and â€˜Castawayâ€™, both huge hits â€“ has been peculiarly absent from the screen the past eight years. With the exception of the DOA Woody Allen pic â€˜The Curse of the Jade Scorpionâ€™ as well as the little-seen â€˜A Good Womanâ€™ and â€˜Bobbyâ€™, Hunt has seemingly taken herself out of the Hollywood game. Or maybe she was just tired of those second banana roles â€“ making what she can opposite Tom Hanks and Mel Gibson â€“ and found that what she was offered was nothing challenging, nothing new. At least, self-exile a la Andy Millman from â€˜Extrasâ€™ is how Iâ€™d like to think it all went down. And this pic further cements my theory as it looks like Hunt decided to take her career in her own hands and fashion the kind of role that wouldnâ€™t be bankrolled by Hollywood unless Colin Firthâ€™s character was the leadâ€¦and the character was played by Hugh Grant. Nepotism rears its ugly head in Hollywood yet again as Helen Hunt the director casts Helen Hunt the actress in the lead role (yes, that was a jokeâ€¦) of April Epner, a 39-year-old New York schoolteacher whose biological clock is ticking away with fervor when her man-child of a husband, Ben (Matthew Broderick), leaves her after only a few months of marriage to move back in with his mom. Coinciding with this is the entrance of Frank (Colin Firth), a recently divorced dad of one of her students, whose frazzled, survival instincts-alone life seems to meet her own miserable life half-way. And again in the spirit of one relationship ending and another beginning, Aprilâ€™s adoptive mother dies and her real mother suddenly appears, wanting to be a part of her life again. Her real mom, Bernice (Bette Midler), is everything sheâ€™s not â€“ outspoken, flashy and wealthy from being a local TV talkshow host â€“ and April is understandably skeptical due to the timing and the outlandish lies Bernice first tries to lay on her (â€˜your father was Steve McQueenâ€™). On the cusp of two possibly important relationships, April has to decide just how miserable she wants to beâ€¦ Based on Elinor Lipmanâ€™s 1990 novel, which Helen Hunt adapted with co-scripters Alice Arlen and Victor Levin, the big scripting trick was balancing a tone that walks that fine between misery and comedy and everything in between. In this respect, I was reminded of some of those great female-driven 70s dramedies like â€˜Alice Doesnâ€™t Live Here Anymoreâ€™ and â€˜An Unmarried Womanâ€™ where the comedy is a firm side-effect of wry observation of the characters realities. Nothing seems forced in this world with the exception of some obvious casting calls and an unnecessary cameo from Salman Rushdie. Those obvious casting calls wonâ€™t get points for creativity â€“ Broderick as a middle-aged man who needs to grow up and Firth as the bumbling but perfect single dad â€“ but thereâ€™s no arguing the effectiveness and Hunt shows up gaunt, tired and ready to play with a character not altogether primed to claim the sympathies of the audience; sometimes an iffy bet. Bette Midler is the coup here though and her presence is a sore reminder that Midler was a once formidable dramatic and comedic actress. I can safely say this is her best performance in years and her reveal in the pic gives a much-needed boost of charisma. Striking all of the right notes, Midler stops just short of her 80s zaniness in a few sequences and the comedy was much appreciated. The film is presented with a 1080p 1.78:1 transfer and the result is a solid if not exceptional picture. The look of the pic is intentionally very soft which rightly matches the tone of the film so detail and colors will inherently be soft too but close-ups offer some high-def goodness. Ultimately not a film that screams to be high-def, but 1080p never hurtsâ€¦ Special Features include a feature-length audio commentary from Helen Hunt who focuses mostly on the hurdles of production and trying to pull together a low-budget first pic. A 11-minute featurette and a 15-minute â€˜Interviewsâ€™ segment with the major cast and crew round out the extras along with the trailer. A solid directing debut for Hunt who clearly wanted to try her hand at some emotional truth, the cast does a great job backing up a script that gets more rewarding as it goes along. Hunt and Midler shine as daughter and mother and Midler finesses a tricky role with commendable restraint. The high-def A/V is nice but probably wouldnâ€™t be a deal breaker for those weighing the price difference of the standard defâ€¦
Star Wattage Reignites By CROOT, James THEN SHE FOUND ME (M) Directed by Helen Hunt * * * * * Reviewed by James Croot ——————– There was a time when everyone was mad about Helen Hunt. Star of hit sitcom Mad About You, her wattage increased even further when she won an Academy Award for As Good As It Gets in 1998. She reached her zenith in 2000 when she played strong women responsible for saving Tom Hanks (Cast Away), Kevin Spacey (Pay it Forward) and Mel Gibson (What Women Want) all within a few short months. She was so popular that her profile even helped launch the career of younger lookalike Leelee Sobieski. And then suddenly she disappeared from our screens. A scene-stealing turn in 2004’s A Good Woman confirmed she still had the goods, but all that eventuated was a part in 2006 ensemble drama Bobby. So now Hunt’s turned to the one surefire way of ensuring a leading role, casting herself in her directorial debut. Loosely based on Elinor Lipman’s 1990 novel of the same name, Then She Found Me is the story of 39-year- old New York kindergarten teacher April Epner-Green (Hunt). Acutely aware that her biological clock is running low on batteries, she is desperate to have a child of her own. “It’s like being hungry or needing to pee,” she says of her desire. However, she and husband Ben (Matthew Broderick), a fellow teacher, have been trying to conceive for 10 months, without success. Then he announces that he “doesn’t want this life”, leaving her alone and with an extra class to look after. “It’s not going to get any worse than this,” she tells herself. Then, within hours, her adoptive mother dies and just days later her birth mother appears out of the blue. A well-known talk-show host, Bernice Graves (Bette Midler) is everything that April is not – flashy, loud and self- important – and worst of all, she insists on calling her by her birth name, Gabrielle. While fans of the novel will be outraged by its scant resemblance to the original material (only the main characters’ names are the same), this film is that rare thing of beauty, an engrossing, quality contemporary adult drama. A kind of Sleepless in Seattle meets a gender-swapped version of Jerry Maguire, the movie is an emotional rollercoaster that draws you in with its believable characters and realistic reactions. This is the perfect antidote for those jaded by all the vacuous and vapid star vehicles that pass for romantic comedies these days. There are no makeovers or reconciliation at airports here. Instead, we have a film that is sincere, not shallow, gritty not glossy and complicated not contrived. Even blokes will find it more than bearable. As director, Hunt does a terrific job of shuttling between hand- held and static shots to evoke a scene’s mood (backed by David Mansfield’s nicely understated score) and also does some beautiful and unusual framing to reflect the emotional distance inherent in the awkward silences and stilted conversations between characters. As a co-writer, along with Alice Arlen (Silkwood) and veteran TV scribe Victor Levin, she treads the fine line between believable and boring dialogue, emerging with some sparking banter, mostly between her own character and Colin Firth’s solo dad. Bringing back memories of the successful Hanks/Ryan combinations, the pair have you just willing them to be together, despite their flaws. Hunt’s April is wary, cautious, anxious and angry, while Firth (Love Actually) is at his cynically charming best. “Thank you for seeing me,” April says. “Well, you are standing between me and my front door so it is literally the least I can do,” he replies. Equally impressive are the supporting cast, with Broderick playing an adult version of his iconic role Ferris Bueller, and Midler (usually the Grande-Dame of maudlin) engaging and incredibly restrained. Also look out for controversial author Salman Rushdie in a cameo role as a gynaecologist. Forget over-hyped city-sex and films about multiple frocks, hunt down this gem of a movie and discover one of the year’s best. ——————–
Otago Daily Times New Zealand REVIEWS: ‘Then She Found Me’ and ‘The Edge of Heaven’ Home Â» Entertainment Â» Film Sat, 30 Aug 2008 It’s all about family, in Then She Found Me, a heartwarming drama directed by Helen Hunt and The Edge of Heaven, a compelling tale of cultural displacement spanning Germany and Turkey. > Then She Found Me Directed by: Helen Hunt Starring: Helen Hunt, Colin Firth, Bette Midler, Matthew Broderick, Ben Shenkman, Lynn Cohen. Rating: M 5 stars (out of 5) Review by Christine Powley
ArtVoice.com Then She Found Me by M. Faust When a performer turns to directing and makes a film with him- or herself as the star, itâ€™s often seen as a vanity project. You be hard pressed to level that accusation against Helen Hunt, who directs and stars in Then She Found Me. (She also co-wrote the script, adapted from a novel by Elinor Lipma, and such are the Byzantine rules of the Writerâ€™s Guild that her name is presented twice under the credit for the filmâ€™s writer.) Playing April Epner, a 39-1/2-year-old woman suffering more stress than any one person should have to endure at one time, the 44-year-old actress goes out of her way to look the part. April looks drawn, haggard, and underweight, all of which work to make her character seem vulnerable. When an actor like Robert DeNiro does this kind of thing, heâ€™s applauded for his dedication to his craft. But when an actress does it, sheâ€™s derided for looking bad, as if there were a law requiring Botox and facelifts for anyone over 27. End of rant. Aprilâ€™s problems only begin with the end of her brief marriage to Ben (Matthew Broderick), a nebbish who teaches at the same elementary school as her. She is desperate to get pregnant, more so as her adoptive mother tries to persuade her to adopt a child from China. â€œThereâ€™s no difference,â€ she says, but April hasnâ€™t believed that since her mother gave birth to a brother after adopting her: She wants the feeling that she saw in her eyes. Aprilâ€™s life becomes more unsettled when she is approached by a woman claiming to be her birth mother. Such a situation is one which I suspect an adoptee would want to approach with delicacy and sensitivity. You will understand the degree to which these qualities are denied when you learn that that said birth mother is played by Bette Midler. Throw in Colin Firth as a father having just as much trouble coming to grips with life after his own divorce and you have all the ingredients for a broad romantic comedy. But thatâ€™s not quite the kind of movie that Then She Found Me is. While itâ€™s frequently funny, the charactersâ€™ painful emotions are never played for laughs. The cast is uniformly excellent, with Midler and Firth particularly good at bringing reality to difficult characters. The story takes a few odd turns in the third act, of the sort that work better in a novel than a film, but overall Then She Found Me shows Hunt to be an empathetic director with an interest in probing complex lives. â€”m. faust
Then She Found Me Sydney Morning Herald Sandra Hall, reviewer May 16, 2008 At 39, April Epner (Helen Hunt) learns that her birth mother is Bette Midler. Well, Midler in a slightly less famous incarnation. As Bernice Graves, she plays a TV host with a morning chat show on a local New York channel. When first treated to the news of their biological bond, April has never heard of her, which does nothing to diminish the impact of Midler’s appearance in her life – especially when she hears the follow-up. She was conceived, she’s told, during Bernice’s one-night stand with Steve McQueen. Midler is at her slyest through all this but Hunt isn’t playing. In her early days on the TV sitcom Mad About You, her acerbic side was brightened by a sense of mischief, which was still in working order when she collected her Oscar for her co-starring role with Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets. Sadly, it’s now gone missing. She’s chosen not to wear make-up for this film – a refreshing, if rash, decision, for some colour might have helped cheer April up. She has a turned-down mouth which speaks of chronic disappointment and she regards the sudden advent of Bernice, looming up on her emotional horizon like a pop-up cartoon, as just another of life’s irritants. Admittedly, she’s been dealt quite a few of these thanks to her adoptive mother, Trudy (Lynn Cohen), who is as hard to please as April herself. And there’s worse to come. April doesn’t know it yet but her husband, Ben, is about to walk out on her. His reasons are complex, although he isn’t. Played by the perennially child-like Matthew Broderick, he’s one of those boy-men we see a lot of on screen these days. Believe what the movies are telling you and you’d have to conclude that American males of generations X and Y have no interest in growing up. They’d much prefer to paddle along in the emotional shallows tending to their websites and sports memorabilia collections. Ben cultivates neither of these diversions but he maintains a wistful, Peter Pan-like longing for simpler times. After dumping April, he resigns from his teaching job and disappears. He’s later found to have gone home to mother. The script is based on a novel by East Coast writer Elinor Lipman and even though the plot has all the ingredients of soap, plenty of grit is added to the mix thanks to the sharpness of the dialogue and the downbeat look of its Brooklyn settings. The book concentrates on April’s efforts to handle the ebullient Bernice but Hunt and her co-writers have invented a couple of new complications for the film. One is April’s desire to have a child – a plot point that introduces Salman Rushdie, of all people, playing an obstetrician. The other is the casting of Englishman Colin Firth as yet another variation on his celebrated role as Mr Darcy. This character is just as stalwart as Darcy but he has no trace of his superciliousness. Significantly enough, his name is Frank Harte, he has a child at the school where April teaches and he, too, has been dumped by his spouse. His wife, an artist, has gone off with her new boyfriend to “paint the world”. Frank blunders into April’s life the day after Ben has left her and he has pertinent advice. Do nothing, he tells her, until you’ve slept. For all I know, Firth may now stroll through this kind of role on autopilot but somehow it never looks like it. Frank behaves as if he’s driving a mismatched pair of horses called Passion and Self-Preservation. He’s always trying to rein in one or the other, and the effort enlivens his conversational style with the breathless rhythms of a typical Firth worrywart. A dogmatic declaration is inevitably followed up by a crippling doubt and, when he’s really bothered by something, he has to stop talking altogether and take a calming walk around the block. I kept wishing that he and Midler had more scenes together because his bristling pessimism makes such a potent contrast with her blithe assumption that bluff and showmanship are enough to see anybody through anything. The script touches on some of the classic dilemmas of romantic comedy. When Ben abruptly reappears in April’s life, she is shocked to find that she’s not immune to the temptations of break-up sex. She must also forge a relationship with her new lover’s children – an obligation complicated by the fact that one of them already knows her as Miss Epner, his teacher, and can’t really understand why she should be having a sleepover in his father’s bed. Much as I wished Hunt could have lightened up, I warmed to her after a while – or perhaps it’s just her predicament. There’s a pleasingly bittersweet tone to the film. Maturity, it is saying, is no guarantee of serenity and if it was, boredom inevitably would ensue. Instead life has a habit of shaking you up and, if you’re still standing after the turmoil has subsided, you may be all the stronger for it.
‘Then She Found Me,’ 3.5 stars by Bill Goodykoontz – May. 8, 2008 12:00 AM The Arizona Republic Here’s to lowered expectations. Then She Found Me benefits from them. The story of a woman who loses her husband and adoptive mother and finds (or is found by) her birth mother and a potential soul mate has all the trappings of a movie made for the Hallmark Channel. That it stars Helen Hunt does nothing to make you think differently. Yes, it’s true that Hunt won enough Emmys for Mad About You to support a shelf to put her Oscar on (for best actress in As Good as It Gets). But her performances – including the one for which she won her Oscar – have a flatness to them. They’re technically proficient but somehow lacking in heart. She can make you want to watch her characters but not really care about them. Then She Found Me is different. Hunt, as April, the woman who undergoes the string of life-altering events, is very good. Maybe she has the director to thank. That’s also Hunt, who also co-wrote the script, from Elinor Lipman’s novel. Hunt the director doesn’t shy from making Hunt the actress look tired, haggard, beaten down. That befits a woman whose immature husband, Ben (Matthew Broderick), leaves her right before her mother dies. Soon April gets word from Bernice Graves, an over-the-top local television celebrity (Bette Midler, behaving exactly as you’d expect), that Bernice is her real mother and wants to meet her. Meanwhile, at the school where April teaches, Frank (Colin Firth), the newly single father of one of April’s students, begins showing interest in her. He moves in a little fast, maybe, but it doesn’t hurt that he’s pretty much Earth’s Most Perfect Man. One more thing: April really wants to have a baby. The film basically consists of April bouncing around among all these elements until they eventually come together. Each thread follows the expected dramatic pattern: good, bad, good again. But, to Hunt’s credit, not perfect. There’s nothing wrong with a happy ending in a movie like this. But what’s more satisfying is an ending that isn’t too happy, that isn’t something you see coming from miles away. The slightest tweak of expectations makes all the difference in the world. Firth is fantastic, for instance. He’s the kind of guy who says just the right self-effacing things at just the right time. And yet, we learn, he has his limits. This comes as a relief to the audience, if probably less so to April. Midler plays Bernice broadly, surprise, surprise, but is effective (and funny). Broderick practically crawls up inside himself, making Ben not just mousy but creepy. For some reason, Salman Rushdie shows up as a doctor. Not sure why, but there he is. And Hunt makes April stubborn, cautious, wounded. In other words: believable. No one would have expected that.
‘Then She Found Me’: Yearning for the Mother Lode By John Anderson Special to The Washington Post Friday, May 9, 2008; C05 The etymological roots of “chick flick” aren’t quite clear, but it’s generally not a complimentary term. Sentiment. Bonding. Moral transformation. Characters getting in touch with their inner Joan Crawford. What self-respecting movie needs that? Well . . . “Iron Man” comes to mind. So does the decidedly unsuperhero movie “Then She Found Me,” directed by and starring actress Helen Hunt. It’s definitely a chick flick, in the sense that its engine is inextricably female — not in that vacuous, glossy ad-agency fashion, but in ways that are messy, complicated and contradictory. Hunt’s character, April Epner, is a 39-year-old schoolteacher whose biological clock is clouding her judgment. As the film begins, the desperate-for-a-baby April is marrying Ben, the figurative boy-next-door (he teaches in the next classroom), and a male of the classic mother-fixated variety. He may have a spine of Silly Putty, but he’s got otherwise workable parts. So, like anything done for the wrong reasons, there’s an implicit doom hanging over the nuptials: When the couple flees the reception for an amusement park — to ride the bumper cars — it’s an obvious move by director Hunt, but grimly funny, nonetheless. April’s not just yearning for a child, she wants to produce one herself — she was adopted, and it weighs on her, something she makes clear both to her brother (Ben Shenkman) and her ailing mother (Lynn Cohen), despite the way it makes them feel. This doesn’t cast April as very likable — but certainly human. The movie knows that what makes us tick is usually a rococo mechanism of impressions, experience and wisdom, like a Swiss watch after a few laps around the Cuisinart. And then . . . the domestic effluence hits the rotary appliance: Mom dies. Ben (Matthew Broderick) leaves. And local TV celebrity Bernice Graves (Bette Midler), a one-woman version of “The View,” materializes to announce that she is April’s biological mother. In the midst of all this, Frank (Colin Firth), one of April’s school dads — and one whose wife has abandoned him and their two children — starts lighting up April’s life like Debby Boone. Hunt directs a lot of “Then She Found Me,” her feature debut, like a TV movie, and the music by the estimable David Mansfield is used to frog-march the film’s emotional content, rather than letting it simply enhance the proceedings. But the Hunt-Alice Arlen-Victor Levin screenplay contains that rare quality, nuance, and the actors respond. Hunt plays April with all the native emotional recoil that an attractive, intelligent, 39-year-old-and-unmarried woman might possess. Midler’s Bernice, although occasionally beaming in from some other movie, if not planet, has the perspective on others’ emotional pain of someone whose entire worldview had been formed by daytime TV. And Firth, who pretty much steals the movie from the women, is sensitive, is handsome in a rumpled-dad way and plays his scenes with an armory of rapier emotions. In her way, April is symbolic not just of late-inning maternal mania — she looks thin, even gaunt, as if she’s been worrying away her nights, afraid of becoming irrelevant — but of Hollywood womanhood itself. Consider Hunt: Even before the conclusion of the highly successful “Mad About You” she was becoming unavoidable. “Twister.” “As Good as It Gets.” In 2000 alone, she appeared in “Dr. T and the Women,” “Pay It Forward,” “Cast Away” and “What Women Want.” Then, a slow fade. What she did in her downtime, as it were, was have a baby. Films by first-timers are often a crapshoot, occasionally an indulgence; films directed by actors often seem to be something they needed to get out of their system, to become the conductor rather than the violin. Neither is true of “Then She Found Me,” which suffers from, if anything, a lack of pure confidence in the story, the actors or the audience. But any crowds going to see “Then She Found Me” (a title with multiple meanings, it turns out) won’t need quite the number of clues about how they’re supposed to be feeling. They’ll know. And a lot better, and a lot sooner, than April Epner. Then She Found Me (100 minutes, at area theaters) is rated R for sexual content and vulgarity.
‘Then She Found Me’ — Grade: C+ Helen Hunt needs more focus as a writer Tom Long / Detroit News Film Critic A few plot turns too many undermine Helen Hunt’s “Then She Found Me,” and that’s too bad, because Hunt shows some nice touches here both in front of and behind the camera. Hunt plays April, a New York City school teacher who is dumped by her immature husband (a nicely loathsome Matthew Broderick) just as her adoptive mother dies. While she’s recovering from these shocks, she’s contacted by a woman claiming to be her birth mother. That woman turns out to be Bernice Graves (Bette Midler), a popular daytime TV talk show host who has recently confessed on camera to giving up her baby daughter for adoption. Bernice being something of a serial liar — she initially tells April that her real father is Steve McQueen — the relationship between mother and daughter starts out shaky and continues to shake throughout the film. Now right there you’d think there might be enough for an entire film, but the screenplay written by Hunt, Alice Arlen and Victor Levin, based on Elinor Lipman’s novel, keeps coming, introducing a new love (Colin Firth) into April’s life, bringing her ex-husband back and juggling all sorts of adoption questions. The adoption focus was reportedly Hunt’s idea, and it was a wrong one; the movie starts to feel somewhat over-stuffed about two-thirds of the way through. Still, Hunt the director does marvelous work with Hunt the actress, making April a gaunt, worried woman worn down by life but unwilling to give up. And Midler is a delightfully doughy mix of desperation and deceit. You care for these people, but you hate seeing them tangled up in too much plot. Hunt the director needs to find a swifter script for Hunt the actress and give it another try.
Then She Found Me By Calvin Wilson ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH 05/09/2008 “Then She Found Me” had the potential to be a good film â€” or perhaps several. But in her directorial debut, Helen Hunt can’t seem to make up her mind whether she’s trying for a romantic comedy, a melodrama or a character study. Hunt plays April, an aging schoolteacher who still has issues about having been adopted, but is desperate to have a child. That seems to be one of the reasons she marries mama’s boy Ben (Matthew Broderick), although it’s soon clear that they’re less than a perfect match. A better one might be Frank (Colin Firth), a recently divorced dad who’s a bit peculiar but unabashedly romantic. As April attempts to sort out her feelings for the two men, she’s approached by a woman who claims to be her birth mother: bubbly talk-show host Bernice (Bette Midler). April doesn’t know quite what to make of her. But April doesn’t really know herself, either. Based on a novel by Elinor Lipman and co-written by Hunt, Alice Arlen and Victor Levin, “Then She Found Me” swings uneasily between April’s man trouble and her mom problem. The film might have been deeper, and more satisfying, had Hunt not abandoned the freshness of its early scenes. It doesn’t help that, as an actress, she comes across as significantly more unlikable than she probably intended. But Midler is divine as the overenthusiastic but well-meaning Bernice, and Firth lends his usual charisma to Frank. As for Ben, it’s clear at this point that if a script calls for a middle-age nerd, Broderick is the go-to guy. Despite its shortcomings, “Then She Found Me” has its moments, and Hunt shows promise as a director.
BALTIMORE CITY PAPER 5/7/2008 by Wendy Ward Helen Hunt’s features have sharpened with age. Now in her 40s, Hunt’s paper-thin skin shows the wrinkles around her eyes even when she’s not smiling and, somehow, her nose and lips have caught up with her narrow body and look like they could cut you. She’s been working hard, and it shows. Directing, writing, co-producing, and co-starring in Then She Found Me, Hunt has evolved into more than just a leading lady who can go head to head with heavyweight Jack Nicholson. And she’s a wonder to watch as April Epner, a preschool teacher freshly married to fellow teacher Ben (Matthew Broderick). April’s inability to conceive hurts her, and her mother’s advice to adopt stings because she doesn’t want to. It’s a sensitive subject approached honestly: Who says out loud that they don’t want to adopt? The fact that April herself was adopted into the loving Jewish household where she grew up isn’t ironic as much as it is illuminating. What she desperately wants is a blood connection, made more difficult when her louse of a husband leaves her. That’s a wealth of background information, and it comes quickly right at the start of Found Me, but it becomes more subtle as it goes. Like the best movies that take the quiet route to small–in the scheme of things–yet grand statements about the lives of the people in them, Found Me tells much with little: April’s sharp features look odd against her brother’s at the Seder; her husband’s baseball cap illustrates his childish determination to resist commitment; her mother and father die before her birth mother contacts her. Even quiet, largely emotional movies need a spark to keep their motor running, and just when April is at a low point, the divine Bette Midler enters the picture as her birth mom, Bernice Graves, a flaming fireball of a personality–and local television talk show host–who wants a relationship with her far too broken daughter. Midler has always excelled in roles that use her natural talents, and Bernice’s celebrity persona, true wit, and real hurt–real enough to empower her with empathy–give the actress something to chew on. While together, the two women engage and disengage like it means something important. It feels the same between Hunt and the single dad of one of her students, Frank (Colin Firth), although his bitterness and aggression get to be a bit much. While Broderick took his bad-guy role down a notch by portraying lethargy as sexy–yeah, a pussy can be that guy you long for even though he’s bad for you–Firth dials up. It’s a little annoying but still, damn sexy. In short, Hunt has directed herself a little gem in Then She Found Me, in which her blue eyes may be wary with wisdom but it’s a delight to see her laugh.
Boston Globe MOVIE REVIEW In ‘Then She Found Me,’ Hunt conceives a stress test By Wesley Morris, Globe Staff | May 2, 2008 Helen Hunt deserves a lot of credit for agreeing to look like hell in “Then She Found Me,” though it’s hard to see how she had any other choice. The movie, which she directed and co-wrote, never gives her a moment’s rest. It’s a whirl from the first scene – a chaotically photographed Jewish wedding of Brooklyn schoolteachers, April (Hunt) and Ben (Matthew Broderick) – to its last flurry of shots. In almost no time, Ben tells April, who’s been having a tough time conceiving, that he wants out of the marriage (Broderick’s playing another one of his lumpy boy-men). Then they make love and he leaves. Hours later, she shows up at school only to discover he’s left her with his class to teach in addition to hers. A scene later, a divorced parent (Colin Firth) sees April freaking out near the parking lot and gives her advice that she interprets as a come-on (she eventually tries dating him). Next: April’s adoptive mother dies, her birth mother tries to establish contact after 39 years, and April finds out that she can get pregnant. This all seems to happen in about 20 minutes, and things continue at that pace for another 80 or so. What ought to be a bittersweet movie about a woman’s momentary unraveling feels like a workout class: Cardio melodrama.
Bring your emotional gym clothes. After it’s announced that April’s birth mother is a New York talk-show host played by Bette Midler, you’ll need them. I was expecting Blythe Danner, Glenn Close, or a Redgrave sister, someone who might explain April’s WASP-y features and uptight demeanor. Midler just confused me. With her uncannily smooth face and Uzi-caliber line delivery, Midler is the Jewish mother as relentless diva, but hungry for love and surprisingly wise. It’s a big improvement over her altruistic mommy in 1990’s “Stella Dallas” remake. She energizes this movie the way a great entertainer ought to. But her energy – and the resentful way April reacts to it – also really made me think: What is up with Helen Hunt? The idea that she could be Bette Midler’s illegitimate daughter is like something out of Hollywood science-fiction. I try imagining Hunt flying around Radio City Music Hall in a motorized wheelchair wearing one of the Divine Miss M’s shimmering mermaid tails and feel ridiculous. Hunt takes herself a lot more seriously than a woman with Midler’s genes should.“Then She Found Me” is Hunt’s first movie as a director (she, Alice Arlen, and Victor Levin adapted it from Elinor Lipman’s 1990 novel). She’s given her movie the hectic pacing of her old sitcom. (“Mad at You,” in fact, wouldn’t be a bad title for this movie.) But amid all the chaos, Hunt provides the film natural rhythm and modest, down-to-earth scale. It’s the size of an average, if overstuffed life. Occasionally, I thought about Elaine May’s “A New Leaf” and “The Heartbreak Kid” while I watched it. Both directors’ movies are about life’s humiliations. May hit harder. Hunt hits harder on herself. It’s amazing that most of the screen acting she’s done has been in comedies. The women she plays are too easily irritated by other people to find them funny, and too self-critical to laugh at themselves. She practices a kind of stressed-out comedy. But I don’t always laugh. Watching her on “Mad About You,” and in “As Good As It Gets,” “Pay It Forward” (a comedy to me), “The Curse of the Jade Scorpion,” and now here, my back started to tense up. In “Then She Found Me,” April is too uptight to let Firth’s character love her. There’s one adorably indicative scene where she lays in bed with him and his two kids. The actress opens her eyes, finds the daughter staring at her, and uncomfortably asks the little girl whether she wants a mint. That’s Hunt at the movies: allergic to intimacy. Her struggle to surrender to Firth’s single prince feels real. But she’s trying so hard. This woman doesn’t need a man. She needs a motorized wheelchair.
APP.com TREASURE HUNT Actress’ directorial debut shows knack for job By ELEANOR O’SULLIVAN Movie Writer “Then She Found Me” is simply an embarrassment of riches: Helen Hunt is here, starring and directing and doing her puzzled charm bit well, as always. Then there is Bette Midler, and, fans of the great Midler need know nothing more than she’s in a movie with a juicy role. And there is Colin Firth, amazingly sexy even though he is playing a schlumpy single father caught in Manhattan with a polished British accent and no one to love. Squeezed into this territory of titans is nerdy Matthew Broderick, a bit plump and doleful here, as the outgoing husband of Hunt, a grade school teacher who adores children but has none of her own. Which, like “Baby Mama,” is the engine that drives the movie, but unlike that comedy, this one has ample reserves of good writing and intellectual vigor. Which is not to say it’s too brainy to enjoy; it’s soothing in the way that artful movies are â€” smart but not annoying about it. Hunt is appalled when Broderick moves out for his own reasons, and she has another drama in her personal life: her adoptive mother dies and another one, her birth mother shows up. That’s Midler, a local cable TV celebrity who wears too-tight suits and too-high heels. And yet, it is Midler, so she is wonderful. “Then She Found Me” plows through Hunt’s ups and downs in her new situations: with a “real” mother who abandoned her but adores her and wants to shower her with love and gifts, and with a new boyfriend (Firth) who is complicated and afraid of commitment. Round and round these pros go, in the sweaty, chalky setting of a public school, and the palmy confines of upscale Manhattan restaurants, and the sweet locale of a beach house for assignations. There are a couple of plot twists and turns â€” one of which is rather tired â€” but Hunt, Firth and Midler are so interesting to watch, we forget the glitches. Hunt has a very good hand at directing; she’s especially good at nudging comic nuggets from her cast. Interestingly, she’s portraying a woman who has been raised Jewish and she speaks Yiddish and Hebrew with ease. On the grounds of sheer likability, “Then She Found Me” is a winner.
chicagotribune.com MOVIE REVIEW ‘Then She Found Me’ (stars Helen Hunt, Colin Firth, Bette Midler and Matthew Broderick) Rating: 3 stars (good) By Sid Smith Tribune critic May 2, 2008 Adoption is not a topic overly explored in modern cinema, certainly not with the nuances and honesty in “Then She Found Me,” a modest comedy starring and directed by Helen Hunt. The Oscar-winning actress plays April, a 39-year-old New York schoolteacher, desperate to have her own child, despite a loving upbringing by her adoptive parents, who later gave birth to their own biological son, Freddy (Ben Shenkman). April grew up watching what she believes was the more intense bond between her parents and Freddy. That and a somewhat thorny relationship with her bossy mother (Lynn Cohen) engender in her a determination to conceive rather than adopt herself. But the mission is complicated by, guess what, the man in her life, Ben ( Matthew Broderick), her new husband who tells her he wants out. Their break-up doesn’t end their sex life, and six weeks later, after she’s met a new man, Frank ( Colin Firth), a divorced father of one of her pupils, April learns she’s pregnant. Meanwhile, another complication arrives in the form of her own long-absent biological mother. Bernice ( Bette Midler) is a successful morning TV talk show host and just about everything April isn’tâ€”loud, overbearing, agnostic (April’s an observant Jew), obnoxiously frank and frankly obnoxious. After making contact, she besieges April with all sorts of tales, some of them tall, including her fey insistence April is her love child from a one-night stand with Steve McQueen. All this is quite a lot for one domestic comedy, but a strength of “Then She Found Me,” from Elinor Lipman’s novel, is its straightforward, uncomplicated storytelling that keeps the threads untangled and blends the everyday and the absurd with natural ease. There’s a gentle realism that makes room for laughs, drama and the slightest touch of farce, never spilling into the comically cheap and managing to explore subtler issues involving adoption. In one scene, April, who goes around assuming she merits sympathy as the adopted one, chastises brother Freddy, “You don’t know what it’s like to be adopted.” Opening new honesty between them, he lashes back, “You don’t know what it’s like to not be adopted.” When she asks him to elaborate, he answers, “It’s exhausting” and “sometimes, it’s embarrassing.” For all their differences, April keeps discovering strange little bonds with her biological mother. Both are hard of hearing in one ear and, as the movie progresses, both turn out to be cool liars. As a director, Hunt isn’t interested in visual artistry, providing the movie a bland, pale look, and she’s better directing herself than the other actors. But then that provides some memorable scenes. As she lies on the table getting her first ultrasound from her doctor (the unlikely but shrewdly cast Salman Rushdie), she realizes that the strange, mechanical images are her child, and a look takes over her face that can only be described as beatific. Estranged husband Broderick leans over, beaming, and says, “We made a baby.” By the end, “Then She Found Me” emerges as an entry in the postmodern exploration of family, a unit that’s a patchwork, both natural and gerrymandered, diverse ethnically and religiously and stitched together with all sorts of extended members. That doesn’t make relatives any less combative. But, the movie affirms, that makes them no less loving, either.
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/movies/361411_found02q.html Hunt gives a gutsy performance in nuanced ‘Then She Found Me’ Last updated May 1, 2008 11:56 a.m. PT By PAULA NECHAK SPECIAL TO THE P-I Oscar-winning actress Helen Hunt multitasks as director/screenwriter and star of “Then She Found Me,” a stinging comedy/drama based on a book by the popular writer Elinor Lipman. While Hunt’s directing debut is promising, if understated, it’s her performance as schoolteacher April Epner that impresses the audience. The first glimpse of Hunt, who will forever linger in the mind’s eye as Jamie Buchman, the healthy, assertive wife in the hit series “Mad About You,” is startling. She’s as drawn, raw, drab and fragile as your grandmother’s faded wallpaper. If the viewer can overcome that initial shock, a nice surprise is in store. Hunt crafts a “small moments” movie that captures nuance that we don’t usually see in films these days. It resists drenching itself in style and tone and clever quips that only happen in movies, never in real life, and chooses substance instead. April, at 39, is desperate to be a mother but her one-year marriage to her infantile, facile husband Ben (Matthew Broderick, who looks right for the part but doesn’t have a lot to work with) suddenly unravels because he’s commitment-phobic and unequipped to deal with a mature relationship. April also deals with her adoptive mother’s death. But, inevitably, one door closes and another opens. April befriends the recently divorced father of one of her students (Colin Firth, doing the damaged, cuckolded husband wonderfully — he steals the show). April also is contacted by a stranger who claims to be her birth mother. She’s the iconic Bernice Graves (Bette Midler), a brassy, big-hearted, self-invented talk-show host with no boundaries and few ethics. Nothing goes smoothly of course, but Hunt juggles her characters’ flaws with a focus on insight and intuition and there are a couple of moments of confrontation, revelation and surprise — April’s gynecologist is played by none other than Salman Rushdie — that she imbues with some heartfelt pain as well as comedic deftness. But for as many nerves as she is willing to touch in her pursuit of the idea of creating family in all its guises, there is a ragged tempo to the movie that is distracting enough to mention. She rushes when she should slow down and she lingers on what is incidental to her story. Still, you’ve got to laud Hunt’s courage in giving up vanity and applaud a movie about the mystery of life that finds something thematically fresh in its telling, isn’t afraid to wear its vulnerability in the open and has the guts to be raggedly honest.
SFGate Movie review: Then She Found Me Ruthe Stein, Chronicle Senior Movie Writer Friday, May 2, 2008 POLITE APPLAUSE Then She Found Me: Drama. Starring Helen Hunt, Bette Midler, Colin Firth, Matthew Broderick and Salman Rushdie. Directed by Helen Hunt (R. 100 minutes. At Bay Area theaters.) “Then She Found Me” is targeted to Mother’s Day as obviously as “Halloween” was to guess-what holiday. The new movie shrieks of motherhood – raising hot-button issues like biological clocks running down, the rights of birth mothers and whether to adopt or give artificial insemination a shot. Helen Hunt stars as April Epner, a 39-year-old kindergarten teacher in New York City who is desperate to reproduce and who has all these issues descend on her slender shoulders at once. Immediately after burying the woman she always knew as mother, April is confronted by a frowsy, boisterous, stiletto-wearing local talk show host, Bernice (Bette Midler), who announces that she’s her birth mother. Bernice is fast-talking and occasionally lies, as when she tells April that she’s the product of a steamy one-night stand with Steve McQueen. Then April accidentally becomes pregnant by the wrong guy (Matthew Broderick), her juvenile soon-to-be ex who moves in with his mother after April drops him, instead of Mr. Oh-So-Right (Colin Firth), a single dad whose child she teaches. Both men accompany April to her ultrasound appointment, to the bemusement of her obstetrician (Salman Rushdie – yes, really – looking appropriately perplexed). You would think that frontloading “Then She Found Me” with so much plot would make it play like a soap opera. But Hunt saves the movie from this fate in two ways. First she turns in a touchingly real performance, the best of her big-screen career. Forget that “As Good as It Gets” won her an Oscar. She’s eons better and more realistic in this one. Her April becomes gaunter as pressures mount. She’s so thin that her cheekbones – on a face seemingly devoid of makeup – are her most prominent feature. By directing “Then She Found Me,” Helen becomes its savior as well. This is her first feature film (although she directed episodes of her sitcom “Mad About You”), and her inexperience is obvious in the way the boom shows on the screen a couple of times. Segues between scenes are jerky instead of smooth. But where it really matters – working with actors – veteran filmmakers could learn from Hunt. If she’d directed Midler when she began making movies, Midler might have had a film career instead of a sideline. Hunt knows when to rein in the Divine Miss M instead of allowing her to go into full Kabuki mode. It’s believable that April, who has just lost her adoptive mother, would accept mothering from this relative stranger only because of the warmth and gentleness Midler displays between hammy scenes. Unsure what to say when April realizes she’s pregnant, Midler’s Bernice lowers her voice and exhibits insecurity when she asks, “What would your other mother have said? Something really helpful, I bet?” Hunt also coaxes pitch-perfect performances from Broderick and Firth. Broderick plays the ex-hubby like a big baby, constantly demanding attention. Firth’s beau wins you and April over with his constant attention to his children. When his daughter has an ear infection, he makes it seem like a family outing to the hospital and asks April along. As she can plainly see, he is open to love. But he has limits, which Firth demonstrates in an unexpected moment of anger. It scares April, who’s counting on him to be the one she can count on. Often when a novel rich with religious life, like Elinor Lipman’s “Then She Found Me,” is adapted to the screen, it winds up deracinated. Hunt and fellow screenwriters Alice Arlen and Victor Levin made a judicious decision to allow the Epner family to remain Jewish. To hear Hunt chant prayers in quite acceptable Hebrew is lovely. Thanks to Hunt’s delicate work in front of and behind the camera, you understand April’s need for guidance wherever she can find it. — Advisory: Mild sexual content and profanity.
Boston Herald â€˜Foundâ€™: As good as it gets THEN SHE FOUND ME: B+ An auspicious directing debut by Academy Award-winner Helen Hunt (â€œAs Good As It Gets,â€ â€œBobbyâ€), â€œThen She Found Meâ€ lifts off with all chick-flick jets burning. Thirty-nine-year-old schoolteacher April Epner (Hunt) has recently wed a nebbishy man-child (Matthew Broderick) in the hopes of conceiving a baby before her biological clock runs out. Her husband then tearfully announces, â€œI made a mistake.â€ Her adoptive mother Trudy (Lynn Cohen) dies. April then falls for Frank (Colin Firth), the newly single British father of one of her students, and her birth mother sends an emissary to ask for a meeting. Whew, I think thatâ€™s everything. Did I mention that her birth mother Bernice Graves (Bette Midler) is the local TV stationâ€™s version of Oprah? â€œThen She Found Meâ€ is niche filmmaking to be sure. But itâ€™s clearly been directed by someone with an eye and ear toward helping actors do fine work. Hunt, who is the center of attention in about every way imaginable, is also sympathetic as April, whose birth mother insists on calling her by another name. The character will resonate with women who are trying to have it all in spite of the men who disappoint them. Based on a novel by Elinor Lipman (â€œThe Inn at Lake Devineâ€) adapted by Alice Arlen (â€œAlamo Bayâ€), Victor Levin (â€œWin a Date with Tad Hamilton!â€) and Hunt, â€œThen She Found Meâ€ is a tad too soap opera-ish to mine new ground. But the actors win you over. Huntâ€™s April, who taps her forehead furiously with a finger when she faces a crisis, is an appealing heroine because of her sharp edges, not in spite of them. Midler brings the right mix of intelligence, pizazz and vanity to the role of the local TV queen. As Aprilâ€™s compassionate younger physician-brother, Ben Shenkman of â€œAngels in Americaâ€ is ready for his close-up. But Firth (â€œBridget Jonesâ€™s Diaryâ€) is the real standout as a man who writes jackets for other peopleâ€™s books and whose anger at his wife, an artist who left him with their two children, is eating him up even as he falls in love with another woman. On an odd and amusing note, novelist Salman Rushdie in his big-screen debut as an actor is quite good as Aprilâ€™s doctor. One major reservation: The music is generically plinky. Considering what these people are going through, Iâ€™d say Wagner or Black Sabbath would have been more appropriate. (â€œThen She Found Meâ€ contains profanity, sexual situations and nudity.)
Mother-daughterhood movie tests limits of maternal bond By Carrie Rickey Philadelphia Inquirer Film Critic To lose a parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose and find a mother in the same week looks downright irresponsible. But this is the predicament of April Epner, unassuming grade-school teacher, age 39. No sooner does April’s adoptive mother pass away than her bio-mom comes forward. Beset by grief, surprise, and life-cycle issues enough for several episodes, if not an entire season, of Dr. Phil, April (Helen Hunt) doesn’t know whether to cry, laugh, or run like hell. For April, herself struggling to become a parent, the loss of one mother and the reappearance of another is a bitter dose of poetic injustice. April ignores the advice to adopt from the mother who raised her because she thinks she would be closer to a biological child. So much for biology: When bio-mom barrels into her life, April hates her on sight. Then She Found Me, an unassuming film based on the 1990 novel by Elinor Lipman, marks the directorial debut of Hunt, who substitutes low-key wariness for Lipman’s more satirical edge. The material is so charged that it threatens to electrocute any who would touch it. Yet from the moment that Bette Midler, as Bernice the bio-Mom, appears, she becomes the instrument of its emotional release, catharsis teetering on high heels. Hunt is a sympathetic director of actors, particularly Midler, who delivers a fluent performance in this most episodic of films, and also Lynn Cohen as April’s pragmatic mom. Most movies suffer from a drama deficit. Not this one, which deals with April’s multiple anxieties as adoptee, infertility patient and woman. For not only does April have mom trouble, she has man trouble. The mothers in her life are mirrored in an absentee husband (Matthew Broderick) and too-present suitor (Colin Firth). Given its drama surplus, I wish that Hunt (who, with Alice Arlen and Victor Levin, adapted Lipman’s book) had leavened the anxiety with some irony. As Hunt plays her, April is a shuttlecock swatted between the emotional needs of bio-mom and her own loyalty to an adoptive mom. Because of her generosity to the other performers, Hunt is stronger here as a filmmaker than as an actress. Like life, some of the movie is excruciating. But, so what? By the closing scene, I felt privileged to be along for April’s emergence from the deep waters of daughterhood and her realization that when love knocks, the heart opens wide.
Knight At The Movies Then She Found Me Richard Knight, Jr. April 30, 2008 Helen Hunt’s directing debut gives Bette Midler (and herself) their best roles in years, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler in a familiar but funny gal pal flick Check Out “Knight At The Movies” Fantastic Site: Click Here With Then She Found Me Helen Hunt steps into rare company â€“ sheâ€™s one of the few women to star and direct themselves in a movie. Itâ€™s a pleasure to report that Huntâ€™s directing debut is as assured and oddly compelling as the material upon which itâ€™s based, the chick lit novel by Elinor Lipman. Like Huntâ€™s favorite acting tic this is a movie that squints every once in awhile, allowing you to contemplate the characters and leaving you with a wry smile once youâ€™ve had a chance to mull it over. It also offers Hunt and her co-star Bette Midler their most satisfying parts in years. Hunt plays April Epner a grade school teacher who as the movie gets going is sandbagged left and right by an avalanche of bad luck. Just as sheâ€™s decided she wants a baby her husband Ben (Matthew Broderick) announces that heâ€™s unhappy and is leaving their marriage, then Aprilâ€™s adopted mother dies. In the midst of dealing with the fallout of the end of her marriage she gets hit on by Frank (Colin Firth), the father of one of her young charges. But April is so upset about Ben walking out she barely takes notice. Then April is confronted at school by Alan (out actor John Benjamin Hickey), who is the gay assistant for local talk show hostess Bernice Graves (Midler). Alan informs April that Bernice is her birth mother and would like to get to know her. Without much warning, Bernice, a woman used to having the way smoothed for her does her best to integrate herself into Aprilâ€™s life. Only Aprilâ€™s not quite sure what that life looks like or feels like anymore. Slowly, she begins to sort out the wheat from the chaff. April begins a tentative relationship with Frank that quickly heads toward the deep end while at the same time going up and down with Bernice. But when April discovers sheâ€™s pregnant, with either Frank or Ben the father, a whole new set of questions enters the equation. It takes awhile to adjust to the almost somnambulant rhythm of the movie Hunt establishes at the outset, though it picks up along with Aprilâ€™s viewpoint. Hunt, whose mouth has pulled down like a basset hound, seems to be sleepwalking through the first half of the film and doesnâ€™t do anything to draw the audience toward her. She is so thin and haggard in appearance that itâ€™s like a badge of honor. All these things are that much more endearing when April finally begins to reawaken to her new life. When Hunt finally smiles itâ€™s as if the sun has broken through the clouds â€“ the risky intention of both the actress and director pays off with patience. Midlerâ€™s character is one of those compassionate, insufferable narcissists, always spouting stuff about â€œthe lessonsâ€ to be learned from each and every experience but sheâ€™s essentially a control freak and itâ€™s really all about her wants and needs. Bernice, whoâ€™s a sort of mini version of Oprah, only hears April when April absolutely insists on it. We see that as Bernice learns to follow Aprilâ€™s cues and the relationship grows, Hickey the gay assistant is getting increasingly jealous (a potential subplot quickly dispensed with to no harm to the story). The movie, instead points Berniceâ€™s character in a direction that wasnâ€™t expected and Midler gets to bring a great deal of warmth and complexity to a role that could easily have denigrated into a caricature. She dials down her innate wattage just enough to let us see thereâ€™s a not quite secure woman behind the celebrity. Firth and Broderick do their usual expert work, each playing stock variations on themselves (Broderick is the grown up, irresistible school boy and Firth is funny and sexy at once â€“ the personification of the middle aged dreamboat). Cameos by Janeane Garofolo, Tim Robbins, and Edie Falco as Betteâ€™s talk show guests are a nice bonus. The only casting misfire is Salmon Rushdie as Huntâ€™s pediatrician â€“ if only because his appearance in the movie is so unexpected and his identity as a â€œseriousâ€ author is so fixed in the mind that to see him in the minor role throws one temporarily out of the picture. As Then She Found Me moves along it takes on some of the same sweet, loopy tone of Waitress and the story has a similar arc. It doesnâ€™t have the lush, dreamy look of Waitress (or its sounds) but it felt just as satisfying and like that film I found it just about irresistible (but why didnâ€™t they write a song for Midler to sing over the end credits? That would have put me over the edge). A recent New York Times story reported that the term â€œchick flickâ€ has become in the mind of filmmakers a pejorative one; to apply it to a movie that focuses on female characters is a â€œno noâ€ and that future films in the genre by Nora Ephron and others will be described and marketed in ways that will make them more palatable to wider audiences. Well I donâ€™t care what you call them as long as we get more movies like them â€“ with Waitress and Then She Found Me for starters. Can I get a witness ladies and my fellow gay chick flick fanatics?
NewYork Post 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.
ComingSoon.net Edward Douglas 4-27-08 Mini-Review: Helen Hunt proves herself to be a highly capable filmmaker with this charming and mostly enjoyable dramedy that sometimes achieves its desired blend of humor and pathos, but not always. For whatever reason, Hunt didn’t cast herself in a role that allows her to show much range as an actress with the exception of two key moments, but she wisely filled the two main supporting roles with Bette Midler and Colin Firth, both whom elevate the material far beyond anywhere it could have been without them. The scenes between Hunt and Midler are particularly wonderful for their rapid-fire patter that will remind some of Hunt’s sitcom days, though their age difference doesn’t seem wide enough to work. Firth is as charming as usual, even if he’s partially responsible for the film’s dark turn in the last act. The one weak link to the cast is the poorly miscast Matthew Broderick as April’s ex-husband, because he doesn’t bring enough to the role to make one believe she’d have any interest in getting back together with him. There are a lot of cute smile-inducing moments like when April shows up for her sonogram with both her ex-husband and boyfriend, but the film often falters due to its awkward pacing and erratic tone which is hard to adjust to as Hunt’s film tries to figure out whether to be funny or moving. There’s little denying that this is an unrepentant chick flick, but one has to commend Hunt for having the vision and ability to pull something like this off without relying on some of the most overused clichÃ©s of the genre to create a film that shows that she may have more potential as a filmmaker than some of her peers. Rating: 7/10
Newsday.com ‘Then She Found Me’ BY GENE SEYMOUR Special to Newsday April 25, 2008 Click here to find out more! Gaunt, grim and wound as tight as a ukulele’s string, April Epner (Helen Hunt), the elementary schoolteacher undergoing the mother of all midlife crises in “Then She Found Me,” is a stern challenge to an audience’s collective sympathy. We feel her pain, nonetheless, when, in swift succession, her adoptive mother dies, her Peter Pan husband (Matthew Broderick) abandons her for another woman and, out of the blue, her real mother (Bette Midler) turns out to be narcissistic talk-show queen Bernice Graves, who claims April is the fruit of a one-night stand with Steve McQueen. That’s enough screwball complexity for a season-long sitcom, though sitcom veteran Hunt, making her feature directorial debut here, is after something deeper and more challenging. She starts by making April difficult to like, especially in her brittle engagement with both Bernice and with Frank Harte (Colin Firth), a divorced dad to one of April’s students and an earnest, willing bridge over April’s troubled waters. Hunt’s touch behind the camera is sometimes as severe as her demeanor in front of it, though she can do some very nice things; especially within the intimate surroundings where her actors flourish. It’s gratifying to see Midler carry out such a polished, nuanced comedic turn while Firth’s stoic grace and wiry moodiness conspire – and almost succeed – in stealing the show. THEN SHE FOUND ME (R). Helen Hunt stars in her directorial debut as a tightly wound schoolteacher who meets her real mother ( Bette Midler) just as her adoptive mom dies and she’s abandoned by her husband ( Matthew Broderick). Colin Firth excels as the divorced dad seeking Hunt’s favor. Adapted by Hunt, Victor Levin and Alice Arlen from the Elinor Lipman novel. 1:40 (some vulgarities and sexual content). At First and 62nd Cinemas and Chelsea Cinemas, Manhattan.
New York Daily News Glenn Whipp Both movies mine the same material – childbirth, infertility, deception, overbearing mothers – but Hunt’s displays a surer tone and a subtlety that eschews big laughs for sensitive emotional connections. During the opening credits, we see scenes from the wedding of April (Hunt) and Ben (Matthew Broderick), both schoolteachers, best friends who have decided to tie the knot probably because of the slipping sand in the hourglass. April, 39, really wants a baby. The Jewish ceremony itself seems nice enough, but it isn’t long before a dry-mouthed Ben comes home to their New York apartment and announces, “I made a mistake.” And – poof – bye, bye, Ben. “It’s not going to get worse than this,” April announces the next day, but the calamities are just beginning. Bernice (Bette Midler), a popular morning television talk-show host, shows up soon after and informs April that she’s her birth mother, the result of a one-night stand with Steve McQueen, on the Fourth of July no less. Bernice assumes an instant familiarity with April, and since she’s played by Midler, the force of this instant drama knocks the guarded April straight into May. Or possibly straight into the arms of Frank (Colin Firth), the divorced dad of one of her grade-school students. Frank is another variation of Firth’s white knights, a character he could play in his sleep. But Firth has never looked this disheveled, physically at least. Intellectually, the trademark wit remains intact, if a tad more profane and corrosive. Disintegration is a theme here. When Frank tells April it looks like she hasn’t slept, he means it. Hunt, who co-wrote the movie with Alice Arlen and Victor Levin, looks positively haggard through the movie, going light on both makeup and vanity. She and Midler are terrific together. It’s good to see them both on screen again, particularly in a film that doesn’t insult anyone’s intelligence.
Box Office Then She Found Me by Chad Greene posted April 24, 2008 7:49 PM â€œWinningâ€ is a word often associated with the name of acclaimed actress Helen Huntâ€”one repeatedly preceded by multiple hyphens, as in â€œAcademy Award-, Emmy Award- and Golden Globe-winning.â€ Itâ€™s also an appropriate adjective to describe this auspicious auteur turn, with the multihyphenate writing, directing, producing and starring in this silver-screen adaptation of a same-named Elinor Lipman novel which is sure to be Found by appreciative arthouse auds. â€œBeing worked up all the time never got anyone pregnant,â€ hospital bed-bound Trudy Epner (Lynn Cohen) tells her 39-year-old adopted daughter April (Hunt) early on in Then She Found Me. But April, a kindergarten teacher with a wry wit, has plenty to be â€œworked upâ€ about in the weeks that follow, with her attempts to conceive disrupted by the departure of her immature husband Ben (Matthew Broderick), the death of her adoptive mother, her unanticipated attraction to disarmingly disheveled divorced dad Frank (Colin Firth) and then the out-of-nowhere reappearence of her birth mother Bernice (Bette Midler). What is especially impressive is how Hunt consistently creates dry, deadpan hilarity from the messy stuff of real life without undermining the emotional truth of Aprilâ€™s situation. The day after she sleeps with Frank for the first time, for instance, April realizesâ€”in the midst of an uncomfortable conversation with Berniceâ€”that she is pregnant with Benâ€™s baby. The subsequent scene in the office of bemused obstetrician playedâ€”in an impeccable comic cameoâ€”by author Salman Rushdie, is imbued with an awkwardness that is equal parts humorous and mortifying by the attendance of both Ben and Frank. Even the one-liners in Then She Found Me are distilled from the pain interpersonal relationships can create. Take, for instance, this exchange between April and Frank during their first date: â€œYour wife was seeing someone else?â€ April asks. â€œPretty much everyone else,â€ Frank cracks. Clearly committed to the material, Hunt extracts exquisitely subtle performances from her accomplished castâ€”especially Firth and Midlerâ€”in this self-assured directorial debut. With Then She Found Me, the â€œ-winningâ€ actress has Found a second career as a multihyphenate.
The National Ledger (San Fran) HUNT CALLS THE SHOTS DelfÃn Vigil Friday, April 25, 2008 Helen Hunt makes her feature directorial debut with “Then… Hunt also stars in the film with (from left) Salman Rushd… For her new film, “Then She Found Me,” which took more than a decade to make, Helen Hunt is credited as director, producer, co-screenwriter and lead actress. That can mean only one thing: She must really hate this film by now, right? “Ha! I do love the story and was always very fond of the book as it was,” Hunt says of the movie, which was based on the novel of the same name by Elinor Lipman and will be in theaters Friday. “Over time, parts of my life began to weave themselves into the storytelling. It’s different when the movie is so personal.” Hunt has to be credited with that, too. Lipman’s novel is about April, a middle-aged schoolteacher whose life is turned inside out after her adoptive mother dies and her gregarious biological mother suddenly shows up. Hunt couldn’t help but add a few minor details – such as an estranged husband, a new lover and April’s unfulfilled desire to have a child. “In making the movie, I knew I had to add something that the protagonist wants and that you can really watch her go after,” Hunt says, referring to her character’s yearning for a baby – something Hunt experienced during complicated and emotional infertility treatment that eventually led to the birth of her daughter. “In a novel, that something can be very internal – a sense of family, or trust restored. Those are very subtle and beautiful things. For a movie, it’s better when somebody wants food or wants to build a house. Or wants a baby.” How “Then She Found Me” finally became a movie is a story in itself. When it was published in 1990, the novel received rave reviews and had already been optioned for a film by Sigourney Weaver’s production company. That same year, a friend gave a copy of the book to Hunt, who fell in love with the story. When Hunt asked Weaver if she could participate in the film, she was turned down. Eight years and one Academy Award later, Hunt managed to “take control” of the film rights, according to production notes. Was there some kind of showdown between Weaver and Hunt? “No, it was hardly a showdown,” Hunt says with a laugh, offering no specifics other than that it took “many years” to obtain the rights and years of rewriting before production could begin. The only apparent drama in the transfer was how the author found out about it. Lipman’s son was working in the mailroom at a Los Angeles talent agency when he came across a note that read, “Helen Hunt to produce, direct and star in ‘Then She Found Me,’ ” according to production notes. Casting Bette Midler as the loud-mouthed and loving biological mother, Matthew Broderick as the immature husband and Colin Firth as the complicated love interest was easy, Hunt says. Casting herself as April was not. That decision had more to do with a short shooting schedule and the need for an actress willing to work for “no money,” Hunt says. The result is early talk in Hollywood about another Oscar nomination. This time around, Hunt, who won the best actress Oscar in 1998 for her role in “As Good as It Gets,” may very well be considered for her directing. At least that’s the job Hunt says she made a priority while wearing so many hats in the making of “Then She Found Me.” “I knew I’d always want to direct if I felt so close to the story and felt that nobody could tell it better than I could,” Hunt says of her first feature-film directing job (she directed several episodes of “Mad About You,” the ’90s sitcom in which she starred with Paul Reiser). “It would have been harder for me to explain to somebody what I wanted them to do than if I just did it all myself.” Besides the personal parallels, Hunt’s strongest influence in rewriting the screenplay was an essay on betrayal by James Hillman. “The idea of love even in the face of betrayal is what moved me,” says Hunt, who was careful not to be too autobiographical. “Other than my wish for a baby, there’s not much of me in these characters. I’m not adopted. I don’t have an adopted baby. I’m not any of these people on the surface. But just underneath, I’m all of them.” In at least one way, Hunt relates to Firth’s character, a ditched husband who does his writing work outside his kids’ school so he can patrol their lives and make sure he won’t lose them, too. “I don’t actually do that,” Hunt says. “But that’s my fantasy. I would find it more soothing to have my eye on (my daughter) all day. Of course, I’d be crazy if I did that.” While each character in Hunt’s interpretation of “Then She Found Me” betrays and is betrayed, the film tries to balance the drama with comedy. It’s loaded with laughs, thanks in large part to Midler’s performance and Hunt’s direction. “I like laughing,” Hunt says. “If there is anything deeper that I want to say, I feel it’s better to disarm people by getting them laughing. That way, they open up a little more.”
MetroNews Canada Hunt finds directorial debut Rick McGinnis/Metro News 25 April 2008 11:55 After what seems like a long hiatus from movies, Helen Hunt has returned in her own directorial debut, Then She Found Me, a low-budget story about a woman forced to cope with more than sheâ€™s probably equipped to handle â€“ a divorce, pregnancy, a new romance, and the sudden reappearance of her birth mother in the midst of all the emotional chaos. Hunt, whose trademark flinty vulnerability was showcased in films like As Good As It Gets and on TVâ€™s Mad About You, plays the lead role, April, with a remarkable lack of ego â€“ she might be the centre of the story, but she never dominates the action, and the cast Hunt assembled around her has plenty of room to breathe. Hunt says that sheâ€™s been trying to make the film for years, first with an eye to just doing the role of April, then letting someone else handle the part when she decided she wanted to direct. â€œI always knew that my personality might very well be suited to directing,â€ Hunt tells me at the start of a phone interview. â€œBut I also knew that it was too big and exhausting a job to do just to do, which was to say for the privilege of saying action and cut and bossing people around. It wasn’t worth it. But I knew that if I found a story that I had a real sense of authorship over and that I had something, a small but potent something that only I could say, then I would try to do it.â€ In the end, she was forced to take on both acting and directing duties – â€œone of the last big decisions I made before we started shootingâ€ After living with the character for so many years, it simply didnâ€™t seem feasible to pass the burden of playing April on to someone else. â€œThe decision became logistical. I don’t think I could have asked another actress to show up all the time to rehearse. I don’t think I could have asked another actress to work 24 hours a day. I don’t think I had the time to download what I knew about this part into another person’s brain.â€ Considering the budget restrictions, Hunt was able to pull together a stellar cast, with cameo roles by friends like Tim Robbins and Janeane Garofalo in addition to having actors like Matthew Broderick, Colin Firth and Bette Midler play her ex-husband, new love and birth mother respectively. Their willingness to work on such a small project says a lot about the hunger for a human role in a decent script in Hollywood these days.” â€œI didn’t have money to pay them, so they must have responded to the story. These people wouldn’t leave their homes or their work if they didn’t want to be there.” “If you think about the actors who worked on this, as much as we like to make money and be rewarded for what we do, there is a hunger to work on stories that speak to us that is obviously bigger than that. There’s no other reason why these people would have done it. I’m not that great a person that they would have just shown up for weeks at a time ’cause I’m nice.”
The Onion AV Club Then She Found Me Director: Helen Hunt Cast: Helen Hunt, Colin Firth, Bette Midler Rated: R 100 minutes Reviewed by Nathan Rabin April 24th, 2008 Helen Hunt makes a spectacularly inauspicious directorial debut with Then She Found Me, a gray little independent film that not even the brassy presence of Bette Midler can enliven. A little Midler generally goes a long way, but the film could benefit from more of the showbiz institution’s trademark sass. With Midler missing in action much of the time, the film drowns in a sea of thudding earnestness. Adapted from Elinor Lipman’s novel, Then She Found Me casts Hunt as a childless schoolteacher nervously staring down menopause. When her weak-willed husband Matthew Broderick leaves her and her adoptive mother dies, Hunt is thrown into a state of depression and confusion exacerbated by the sudden appearance of her long-absent biological mother Bette Midler, a local television celebrity and legend in her own mind who gave Hunt up for adoption decades earlier, under circumstances that somehow get cloudier the more she tries to explain them. While struggling to cope with a series of unfortunate events, Hunt becomes romantically entangled with Colin Firth, a single father seemingly too good to be true. That plot description may make the film sound like the cinematic answer to chick-lit, but it plays with the trembling sincerity of middling arthouse fare. Firth is typecast once again as the noble male love interest, but he is, thankfully, afforded one great speech where his faÃ§ade of bottomless patience and kindness dissipates, and he gives into the rage percolating just under the surface. Broderick, meanwhile, is convincing as a pathetic man-child desperately trying to recapture his lost youth, but woefully unconvincing as a man Hunt inexplicably finds sexually irresistible. Hunt co-wrote, produced, and directed this film and gives herself a juicy lead role (something sorely lacking for women above the age of 30), which makes it all the more frustrating and perplexing that she and the lethargic, momentum-free film she shakily carries make so little impression. The anxieties and angst of middle-class, middle-aged women remain rich, underexplored cinematic territory, but Hunt’s instantly forgettable film does little to make this deep vein of cultural experience seem vital or exciting.
The New York Times The Biological Clock Is Ticking, the Cause for Much Alarm By STEPHEN HOLDEN Published: April 25, 2008 â€œThen She Found Me,â€ a serious comedy, is more impressive for what it refuses to do than for its modest accomplishment. The directorial debut of Helen Hunt, who plays April Epner, an anxious 39-year-old kindergarten teacher in New York City, it has all the ingredients of a slick, commercial farce, which it emphatically is not. In fact, the movie, based on a novel by Elinor Lipman, has enough material for two such farces. In one, a childless mother obsessed with her ticking biological clock becomes pregnant after clumsy breakup sex with her husband of less than a year. (Her obstetrician is played by, of all people, Salman Rushdie.) In the other, a woman who has just lost her adoptive mother is suddenly besieged by a garrulous local talk-show personality who claims to be her biological mother. The movie is unusually sensitive to the anxieties around adoption. Shortly before her death, Aprilâ€™s ailing mother (Lynn Cohen) argues that there is no difference between raising an adopted child and one of your own; her daughter should cease fretting and adopt a Chinese baby, she declares. Aprilâ€™s vehement refusal to consider the possibility rings as a tacit insult to her motherâ€™s parenting skills, but the simmering conflict is never brought into the open. Ms. Hunt takes every opportunity to avoid easy comic shtick and cutesy-poo sentimentality in an effort to make her characters act and sound like real people. Where typical Hollywood comedies erase ethnicity, Ms. Hunt emphasizes her charactersâ€™ various shades of Jewishness. April doesnâ€™t seem especially religious, but in the opening scene she goes through a Jewish wedding ceremony with her childish husband, Ben (Matthew Broderick), who goes to live with his mother after their breakup. â€œThen She Found Meâ€ also clearly indicates that the charactersâ€™ lifestyles are not unrealistically comfortable. All the stars, including Ms. Hunt, are pointedly deglamorized. April, alarmingly gaunt, with straining neck tendons, appears to wear little or no makeup. As her biological mother, Bernice Graves, Bette Midler is a blowsy, plump loudmouth and bottle redhead whose obsequious behavior makes much of what she says sound false. Indeed some of it is. In her first of several lies, she claims that April was conceived in a delirious one-night stand with Steve McQueen and relinquished for adoption after three days. Aprilâ€™s would-be romantic savior, Frank (Colin Firth), the recently divorced father of two children (one is Aprilâ€™s pupil), looks as if he is going to seed. Spluttering, neurotic and hot-tempered, he has all the romantic promise of an over-the-hill Lancelot astride a tottering nag. Frank also lives in a seedy suburban neighborhood far from any center of action. Mr. Broderickâ€™s Ben is a bloated, inarticulate man-child. His two awkward sex scenes with Ms. Hunt (one in the back seat of a car) are desperate, joyless quickies that involve minimal undressing and leave April confused and Ben apologetic. It falls to Ms. Hunt to stir these character types and clichÃ©d situations into a palatable stew of genuine human emotions. As April cautiously makes her way, you can feel Ms. Hunt, both as director and actor, discarding sitcom conventions to shoot for something deeper and truer. And she achieves it, mostly through the shaded performances of Mr. Firth and Ms. Midler, as well as her own. Mr. Firthâ€™s Frank is hyper-emotional to a degree rarely seen in male characters in mainstream movies. When Frank gets upset, which is frequently, his face reddens, he bluntly speaks his mind and he often excuses himself to go for a walk and let off steam. Ms. Midlerâ€™s Bernice is a credible portrait of a narcissistic drama queen with a good heart beneath her celebrity bluster. Connections between the characters deepen in spite of misunderstandings and obstacles. After April and Frank acknowledge their mutual attraction, their wary courtship proceeds in fits and starts, but they keep at it. Life isnâ€™t easy for April as she muddles along, but you feel she is headed in the right direction. â€œThen She Found Meâ€ is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). It has some strong language and sexual situations. THEN SHE FOUND ME Opens on Friday in New York and Los Angeles. Directed by Helen Hunt; written by Alice Arlen, Victor Levin and Ms. Hunt, based on the novel by Elinor Lipman; director of photography, Peter Donahue; edited by Pam Wise; music by David Mansfield; production designer, Stephen Beatrice; produced by Pam Koeffler, Katie Roumel, Christine Vachon, Connie Tavel and Ms. Hunt; released by ThinkFilm. Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes. WITH: 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) and Salman Rushdie (Dr. Masani).
New York Post HUNT FOR A WOMBMATE By LOU LUMENICK Helen Hunt co-wrote, directed and stars in the bittersweet comedy “Then She Found Me.” Rating: 3 stars out of 4 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. Running time: 100 minutes. Rated R (profanity, sexuality). At the Chelsea, the Sunshine, the First and 62nd.
TV Guide Then She Found Me, Helen Hunt 31/2 stars Helen Hunt’s directing debut, an adaptation of Elinor Lipman’s novel, is neither particularly flashy or innovative. It is, however, filled with just what the Academy Award-winning actress, who also stars, knows a good deal about: good acting. It only took a few days to turn the life of 39-year-old New York City elementary schoolteacher April Epner (Hunt) inside out. After many frustrating months of trying to conceive a child — April was adopted as a baby and resists becoming an adoptive mother herself — her short marriage to fellow teacher Ben Green (Matthew Broderick) ends when he sheepishly announces that he thinks he made a mistake in saying “I do:” The life they’re living isn’t the one he wants. The day after Ben moves out, April meets Frank (Colin Firth), the recently divorced and still hurting father of one of April’s students, who comes on to her a desperate, rebound sort of way. Soon after, the hospital calls April with the news that her mother, Trudy (Lynn Cohen), has died after suffering what seemed like a minor “episode.” Within days of the funeral, April is approached by a stranger (John Benjamin Hickey) in the halls of her school with a note from someone very much interested in meeting her: April’s birth mother. Bernice Graves (Bette Midler) blows into April’s life like a hurricane, meeting her ata restaurant and showering her with kisses and questions while offering only vague details about her decision to give April up. Bernice mentions something about coming from a very conservative Jewish family, getting knocked up after a one-night stand and having no choice but to surrender April up for adoption three days after her birth or be disowned. The good news is that her birth father was none other than Steve McQueen, whom Bernice met while working the makeup counter at Bonwit Teller. April has no idea who this woman really is, but other restaurant patrons recognize her as the host of a local morning talk show who manages to nab fairly high profile guests like Tim Robbins and Janeane Garofalo. April is extremely suspicious of Bernice’s story and motives. She’s also susceptible, having just lost both her mother and husband, desperate for a baby and in the early, tentative stages of a relationship with Frank, a man with jealousy issues and two children. But the more April gets to know Bernice more she realizes that not everything sheâ€™s telling April is the truth. Perhaps none of it is. Alice Arlen (SILKWOOD) and Victor Levin’s (WIN A DATE WITH TAD HAMILTON!) script lacks the melodramatics of BEACHES and histrionics of THE ROSE, but Hunt manages to keep Midler well in line; suffice to say that it’s good she’s playing a larger-than-life, minor New York City celebrity. This is, however, Hunt’s show, and she delivers a strong performance that captures all the seriousness and absurdity of the avalanche of circumstances that comes crashing down on April’s head. To say she’s only half the director she is an actress is actually paying her quite a complement. –Ken Fox
Movie Review Then She Found Me (2008) By Clark Collis Clark Collis is a senior writer for EW Helen Hunt directed, co-wrote, produced, and stars in Then She Found Me, but this dramedy is in no sense a vanity project. Hunt the director makes Hunt the actress look completely beaten down â€” at times outright haggard â€” as she plays April Epner, a 39-year-old schoolteacher whose hopes of having a child seem to be dashed after husband Ben (Matthew Broderick) leaves her. When April’s adoptive mother dies, she embarks on tentative, often difficult relationships with her TV-show-host birth mother (Bette Midler) and a single-father romantic interest (Colin Firth). Not that this adaptation of Elinor Lipman’s 1990 novel is all scrunchy-faced gloom, however. Hunt’s movie-directing debut frequently crackles with nice gags, as when April’s brother (Ben Shenkman) misguidedly tries to cheer her up with the news that ”a 65-year-old woman in the Bronx just gave birth to twins.” And while the casting proves a little bit too predictable (Midler as a force of nature, Broderick playing another man-child, Firth once again Mr. Right), all the characters are given enough space to demonstrate that they have at least two and a half dimensions. Novelist Salman Rushdie’s cameo as a doctor is a weird distraction, but Hunt’s performance is terrific and far more nuanced than her Oscar-winning turn in As Good as It Gets. As an actress, she helps make her director look very good indeed. B
Film review: Press Telegram Long Beach, CA ‘Then She Found Me’ is worth a look By Glenn Whipp, Staff writer THEN SHE FOUND ME In a nutshell: Hunt writes, directs and stars in a rough-edged indie alternative to “Baby Mama.” Those looking for a rougher-around-the-edges, indie alternative to “Baby Mama” could do worse than Helen Hunt’s “Then She Found Me.” Both movies mine the same material – childbirth, infertility, deception, overbearing mothers – but Hunt’s displays a surer tone and a subtlety that eschews big laughs for sensitive emotional connections. During the opening credits, we see scenes from the wedding of April (Hunt) and Ben (Matthew Broderick), both schoolteachers, best friends who have decided to tie the knot probably because of the slipping sand in the hourglass. April, 39, really wants a baby. The Jewish ceremony itself seems nice enough, but it isn’t long before a dry-mouthed Ben comes home to their New York apartment and announces, “I made a mistake.” And – poof – bye, bye, Ben. “It’s not going to get worse than this,” April announces the next day, but the calamities are just beginning. Bernice (Bette Midler), a popular morning television talk-show host, shows up soon after and informs April that she’s her birth mother, the result of a one-night stand with Steve McQueen, on the Fourth of July no less. Bernice assumes an instant familiarity with April, and since she’s played by Midler, the force of this instant drama knocks the guarded April straight into May. Or possibly straight into the arms of Frank (Colin Firth), the divorced dad of one of her grade-school students. Frank is another variation of Firth’s white knights, a character he could play in his sleep. But Firth has never looked this disheveled, physically at least. Intellectually, the trademark wit remains intact, if a tad more profane and corrosive. Disintegration is a theme here. When Frank tells April it looks like she hasn’t slept, he means it. Hunt, who co-wrote the movie with Alice Arlen and Victor Levin, looks positively haggard through the movie, going light on both makeup and vanity. She and Midler are terrific together. It’s good to see them both on screen again, particularly in a film that doesn’t insult anyone’s intelligence.
From the Los Angeles Times MOVIE REVIEW ‘Then She Found Me’ with Helen Hunt and Colin Firth The dramatic comedy about a woman desperate to have a baby is Helen Hunt’s directorial debut. By Carina Chocano Times Movie Critic April 25, 2008 A movie about a woman in her late 30s who is desperate to have a baby is a hard sell in the male teen-oriented movie environment of today, or so the story goes in nearly every mainstream media outlet, including this one. That’s because there’s practically a law stating we must acknowledge prevailing perceptions largely created and maintained by their constant acknowledgment, before we go on to reify them further. Who am I to buck the trend? In any case, and defying all laws of probability and presumed palatability, this week offers up two such movies — one a bright, broad comedy starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, and another a narrower, flintier movie starring Helen Hunt and Bette Midler. Despite the appearance of Midler, “Then She Found Me” treats the subject more dramatically, likening the desire to have a child to hunger, thirst or the urge to relieve oneself — all three longings that will make anyone cranky, Hunt especially. FOR THE RECORD: This review incorrectly refers to the title of the movie “Then She Found Me” as “Then She Met Me.” The problem isn’t so much the character of April as it is the way Hunt plays her — a little too whiny, a little too angry to be very sympathetic. Hunt has a tendency to play up those characteristics in just about everything she does (since her days as the put-upon shiksa in TV’s “Mad About You”), but the movie would have been better served with a more relaxed actress in the role. The equating of smart and no longer young with angry and bitter has so plagued women’s roles in recent years that it seems a shame it should recur in a movie written and directed by a woman, from a novel also by a woman. Despite this slight casting misstep (Hunt, who also makes her feature directing debut, has said in interviews that she chose herself to play the lead because she knew that with budget and time constraints she’d be asking more from her lead actress than was seemly), “Then She Met Me” is unexpectedly sharp, light and appealing; a testament to Hunt’s skills behind the camera. (She also co-wrote the script with Victor Levin, from the novel by Elinor Lipman, as well as produced.) A low-key, rather consoling fantasy deftly masquerading as way-we-live-now slice of life, the movie concerns a rather grim schoolteacher, April Epner (Hunt), who loses everything at once and gains it all back, only better. Her immature husband, Ben (Matthew Broderick), leaves her after just one year of marriage and her abrasive adoptive mother Trudy (Lynn Cohen) dies soon afterward, at which point Colin Firth and Bette Midler appear almost instantly to take their places. Firth plays Frank, a book-jacket writer with two young children — one of them is in April’s class — whose wife left him and the kids to travel the world with her new boyfriend. Within moments of meeting April, he offers her the kind of earnest, uncomplicated, soulful love that in the real world could only be classified as pathological, solipsistic neediness, but which here comes off as charming and virile. Midler plays the antidote to April’s quarrelsome adoptive Jewish mother, who even from her deathbed refuses to give it a rest. (Trudy wants April to adopt a little girl from China.) Midler plays Bernice, a local celebrity talk show host, whose attitude toward life couldn’t be more different from April’s. In fact, given the general air of moroseness that surrounds the other characters, Bernice’s scenes inject a dose of sunshine. But April is resistant to Bernice’s brand of happy, until she learns she is pregnant with her now-absent husband’s child and turns to Bernice for advice. There’s something about Hunt’s put-upon persona that grates, and it would be nice to see her for once in a role that doesn’t call on her to be so angry, short-tempered and disappointed all the time. Midler’s character is radiant by contrast, and much smarter-seeming for knowing how to live. Still, all in all, “Then She Found Me” is a warm, entertaining and well-made little movie and an auspicious debut for Hunt the director.
Baby Formula ‘Baby Mama,’ with Tina Fey, knows what it wants: laughs. Helen Hunt’s ‘Then She Found Me’ isn’t so sure-footedâ€”but it could have been the better movie. David Ansen Newsweek Web Exclusive Updated: 5:59 PM ET Apr 24, 2008 You can take the woman out of the sitcom, but you can’t take the sitcom out of the woman. This was my thought after sitting through Helen Hunt’s debut as a director, “Then She Found Me.” The movieâ€”like another comedy opening this weekend, “Baby Mama”â€”is about a woman desperate to have a baby. April Epner (Hunt) is a 39-year-old kindergarten teacher whose biological clock is ticking noisily. Though everyone tells her to adopt, she adamantly refuses, having been adopted herself. She wants pregnancy. This adaptation of an Elinor Lipman novel (written by Alice Arlen, Victor Levin and Hunt) picks up her story as she weds mama’s boy Ben (Matthew Broderick). Not long afterward, her adoptive mom dies, and the hapless Ben decides matrimony was a mistake and flees. The dramedy proper begins when two new figures enter April’s floundering life. Frank (Colin Firth) is the angry, frazzled newly divorced father of one of her students, and we instantly know, because Hunt casts everyone (except herself) strictly according to type, that this simmering, seductive Brit will loom large in her romantic future. Enter Bette Midler as Bernice Graves, a woman claiming to be April’s actual mom. Bernice is a brassily insincere local TV talk show host, and a world-class liar (she tells April she’s the love child of a one-night stand with Steve McQueen). April wants nothing to do with her, until a DNA test confirms that Bernice is not lying about being her mom. There’s real anguish and an undertone of constant anxiety in “Then She Found Me”â€”all of it contained in Hunt’s torn and frayed performance. But Aprilâ€”gaunt, jittery, and angryâ€”is a three-dimensional character trapped in a two-dimensional romantic comedy. For as a director the TV veteran Hunt tends to hedge her bets, retreating to the safety of sitcom beats whenever the movie threatens to become too lugubrious. As nice as it is to see Midler back in action, she seems to be in a different, broader movie. She’s never allowed to break out of her sashaying, artificial persona. Sure, she’s playing a flamboyant performer, but the real woman underneathâ€”which Midler is perfectly capable of playingâ€”never emerges. Firth too tends to overdo his seething rage, while Broderick reprises his patented boy-man routine, sweet and ineffectual. It might have been a lot more interestingâ€”and a lot less predictableâ€”if the two had switched roles. As it is, the inevitable second act snag that jeopardizes the made-for-each-other relationship between April and Frank (which has to do with her raging sexual attraction to her estranged husband) is particularly hard to swallow. There’s a quirky, honest movie struggling to emerge from “Then She Found Me” (April’s Jewish heritage is refreshingly portrayed, and there are lovely, scattered moments when the characters surprise you), but Hunt, in her directorial debut, can’t seem to decide whether she’d rather make a spicy ethnic dish or bland comfort food.
Straight.com Then She Found Me By Ken Eisner Publish Date: April 24, 2008 Starring Helen Hunt, Colin Firth, and Bette Midler. Rated PG. Opens Friday, April 25, at the Cinemark Tinseltown The she in Then She Found Me is twofold: it refers to the biological mother who tracks down April Epner, a tightly wound schoolteacher played by Helen Hunt, who also directs; and it also suggests the child who is waiting to be born or adopted by April, whatever can happen first to the pushing-40 New Yorker. April has a few teensy problems with all of this. Chiefly, her recent husband and very long-time boyfriend (Matthew Broderick, channelling Paul Simon) has just dumped her. And she is also losing her sickly adoptive mother (Lynn Cohen). So taking on a new mother seems a bit tricky at the moment. Of course, itâ€™s hard to say no to a mom who looks and acts so much like Bette Midler. In fact, she is Bette Midler, relatively restrained as a local TV personality with an inclination toward confabulation and a poor sense of personal boundaries. The film, adapted from Elinor Lipmanâ€™s novel by Hunt and two others, drifts toward sitcom rhythms. But it offers enough leisurely moments and true-to-life bumps to stake out its own cinematic territory. Itâ€™s primarily an entertainment, of course, and in this it scores many enjoyable points with Colin Firth as a British writer raising two kids on his own, one of whom is in Aprilâ€™s classâ€”hint, hint. A number of intrafamily dynamics are raised, to varying effect. Itâ€™s never quite clear what underlies Aprilâ€™s marriage, or why she finds her ex so irresistible. And some scenes with Breakfast With Scotâ€™s Ben Shenkman as her doctor brother feel underdeveloped. But in case youâ€™ve forgotten, Midler is in this movie. The screen certainly brightens whenever she enters the frameâ€”especially in contrast with the filmâ€™s gaunt star, who seems to have figured out all the worst angles from which to film herself. Call it a nonvanity project, and one that deserves to be found.
EyeWeekly.com THEN SHE FOUND ME BY Jason Anderson April 23, 2008 That an Oscar winner like Helen Hunt needs to write, produce and direct her own low-budget indie in order to concoct a decent star vehicle for herself suggests that Hollywood maintains its traditional antipathy to stories involving women over the age of 22. Given these circumstances, Then She Found Me seems more novel than it ought to be, given that itâ€™s an otherwise conventional blend of rom-com and middlebrow drama. Yet itâ€™s also invigorated by appealing performances (including a rare outing by Bette Midler) and Huntâ€™s willingness to travel into rougher emotional terrain than a studio mightâ€™ve permitted. She plays April Epner, a schoolteacher whoâ€™s shocked when her long-anticipated marriage to boyfriend Ben (Matthew Broderick) abruptly collapses. Aprilâ€™s life is further complicated by a dramatic meeting with her birth mother (Midler), a potential romance with a similarly heartbroken divorcÃ© (Colin Firth) and the ticking of her biological clock. Undercurrents of anger and anxiety lend some authenticity to exchanges and events that mightâ€™ve seemed overly contrived. Equally welcome is the notion â€” a rare one for movies targeted at Oprahâ€™s demographic â€” that not all of a womanâ€™s problems can be solved by a nice new guy and/or a house in Tuscany.
SXSW ‘Then She Found Me,’ ‘Intimidad,’ ‘Tulia, Texas’ Hunt’s debut takes fresh look at a familiar topic AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF Thursday, March 06, 2008 ‘Then She Found Me’ 3 stars Helen Hunt’s feature directing debut (she also stars) lets her share a grown-up woman’s perspective on a dilemma (inconvenient pregnancy) and an archetype (the emotionally inept man-child) that have seen plenty of play in recent comedies. Hunt, refreshingly, steers almost entirely clear of cheap yuks and is unwilling to use the challenges her protagonists face as simple plot points: Here, when a character is a single parent, a kid’s existence actually affects the decisions he makes. The “he” in question is Colin Firth, who, like Hunt’s character, has recently been divorced; the two gravitate toward each other, naturally, and Firth’s diffidence in the face of new love plays out beautifully. Anything but diffident is Bette Midler, a self-obsessed talk show host who arrives out of the blue to claim she’s Hunt’s real mother â€” and to inject some restrained kookiness into the tale’s maturely handled midlife crises. 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Paramount Theatre. â€” John DeFore
Great actors = great performances Drawing Colin Firth, Bette Midler, and Matthew Broderick is no small feat in any motion picture, not to mention someoneâ€™s feature film debut. Critics agree that each actorâ€™s best work is present in this film saying that this contains Betteâ€™s greatest achievement since her performance in The Rose, and Huntâ€™s best since her Academy Award-winning work in As Good as It Gets. Bottom line: in almost all cases, TSFM has exceeded audience expectations; donâ€™t be surprised if the film becomes the yearâ€™s best romantic comedy or if it walks away with a couple of Golden Globe or Oscar nominations.Make sure to bookmark these sites: * www.helenhunt.org * www.killerfilms.com * ThinkFilm * Blue Rider Pictures Love. Mister D
Mister D: Ms. Lipman wrote me today, out of the blue, in order to give you all a special message and a capsule review mainly concerning Ms. Midler. She saw a special screening of “Then She Found Me” yesterday and she states, “This movie is going to make you BetteHeads wild with joy.” Notice she knows our lingo…LOL She also gave me the release date which came from Helen Hunt’s beautiful mouth this morning: It will be released in New York and Los Angeles April 25, 2008. I have a feeling it will slowly open big to build word of mouth which would be an excellent strategy for this type of movie. Here’s her review for you:
I saw THEN SHE FOUND ME at a screening today, and am here to rave! I loved every scene, every frame, every line. The whole thing was so wry, so smart, so poignant, so beautifully paced and SO SATISFYING. When your Bette’s on screen, you can’t take your eyes off her. It’s an amazing performance, so funny and nuanced and big but never over the top. Even I who invented Bernice on the page felt that I was finally meeting and seeing her. Truly, it’s a fabulous movie. And Helen Hunt? I could go on for many paragraphs, but I think â€œgenius,â€ sums it up most economically. – Elinor Lipman, author, “Then She Found Me”
Tickets Available Now for the 4th Annual Reel Women International Film Festival Tuesday February 26, 9:00 am ET BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The fourth annual Reel Women International Film Festival, featuring films directed by women from all over the world, will open March 7th with Reservations, directed by Aloura Charles. Set over a night in a New York hotel, Reservations unexpectedly connects the lives of several strangers in startling moments of passion, friendship and hope. A reception will follow at the Luxe Hotel Rodeo Drive. Academy Award winner Helen Hunt’s directorial debut Then She Found Me serves as the Festival’s centerpiece presentation. Adapted from the novel by New England Book Award winner Elinor Lipman, the film follows April Epner (Hunt) and her touching journey to happiness after separation from her husband (Matthew Broderick) and the death of her adopted mother. Academy Award nominee Bette Midler also stars as exuberant talk show host Bernice. Reception to follow at Luxe Hotel Rodeo Drive. With films from 17 countries, the Reel Women shorts presentation sheds light on a variety of social and political issues. In Migration, internationally acclaimed director Mira Nair (The Namesake) examines the AIDS crisis in India. Ghosts of Abu Ghraib director Rory Kennedy looks at how the Iraqi prison abuses in the fall of 2003 still remain etched in our national consciousness. In Bling, director Raquel Cepeda travels with hip-hop artists on an emotional journey to Sierra Leone where they meet face-to-face with victims of conflict â€œbloodâ€ diamonds. Featuring interviews with Kanye West, Big Daddy Kane and Jadakiss, Bling is a riveting documentary that teaches the audience the real price of diamonds. Now in its fourth year, the Reel Women International Film Festival continues to provide a valuable avenue of exposure for talented women filmmakers, to share their diverse stories and bring awareness to critical issues through visual media. To purchase tickets and view the complete festival line-up please visit www.reelwomenfest.com. Contact: Reel Women International Film Festival Diana Means, 818-749-6162 Source: Reel Women International Film Festival
Reel.com Then She Found Me (2007) Bonnie Fazio Helen Hunt’s feature directorial debut doesn’t sparkle or shine or particularly stand out, either as a dramedy or an indie flick. Yet, it has its pleasures. Bette Midler is one of them. Midler hasn’t had a big hit since The First Wives’ Club, and the bulk of her successes, films such as Down and Out in Beverly Hills and Beaches, date back to the 1980s. But Midler is always fun to watch, even when, as in this case, her character doesn’t make complete sense. More on that later, but first a brief synopsis: Hunt plays schoolteacher April Epner, whose life is thrown into turmoil when her husband (Matthew Broderick) leaves, her adoptive mother dies, and her birth mom (Midler) turns up, seeking an instant mother-daughter bond. Themes of parenthood are on April’s mind anyway: she’s desperate to have a baby before it’s too late. Hubby is gone (sort of), but there’s a promising new guy on the horizon named Frank (Colin Firth), the father of one of April’s pupils. Firth is in great formâ€”brooding, smoldering, and kissing April in fine Mr. Darcy fashionâ€”and at one point giving her what-for in his plummy British stage-actor voice. (Frank is a nice, not-inscrutable guy, so you just know it’s gotta be a requirement of Firth’s contract that he wield some Darcy intensityâ€”a la Mark or Fitzwilliam. Just kidding. But it’s safe to say women everywhere are grateful for all the Colin Firth they can get, and the Darcyer the better.) Back to Midler’s character, Bernice Graves: Despite her puppy-dog devotion to her new-found daughter, she commits several selfish and harmful acts. Even so, she’s likeable. It’s hard to tell if this is an intentional contrast, or a failure of writing to match up with tone. One suspects it may be a bit of both. Bernice is a local talk show host, and may be acting a lot of the timeâ€”in which case maybe we should see through this. Hunt is fine as April, although she is so skinny as to distract. Her character is in her late 30s, but Hunt looks older due to the excessive visibility of every bone in her body. (Note to older actresses: thin equals more wrinkles.) Over all, the film pleases, sometimes hits its mark, and often just misses. Hunt won an audience award for this movie at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, which tells you that itâ€”or at least sheâ€”is resonating with some viewers. Also, it tentatively explores a couple of interesting themes, such as parenthood and identity. If it’s not a completely satisfying film, it’s not a completely mediocre one, either. See it if the subject matter intrigues, or you’re a fan of one or more of the actors. â€” BONNIE FAZIO
Cinematical TIFF Review: Then She Found Me Posted Sep 13th 2007 7:02PM by Ryan Stewart Filed under: Comedy, Drama, Romance, Theatrical Reviews, Toronto International Film Festival, Cinematical Indie The directing debut of Helen Hunt gets a passing grade, barely — the story she’s telling is as old as the hills, but Then She Found Me is still executed with style. Sometimes charming, occasionally funny, it never draws attention to itself as the work of a director with training wheels on. The film follows the journey of April Epner (Helen Hunt) a 39 year-old woman who is inexplicably marrying a man named Ben (Matthew Broderick) who is so inconsiderate and self-absorbed that no woman could find him to be primo marriage material. Just as they begin to realize their mistake, April gets the shock of a lifetime: her birth mother shows up and informs her that her real father was Steve McQueen. I kind of liked that premise and hoped the movie would go with it, but it turns out to be just a gag. April’s mother, played well by Bette Midler, has a couple of screws loose. More to the point, she has a couple of screws loose when it’s convenient, and provides sage and sound advice at other times. Colin Firth co-stars as April’s love interest, an emotionally volatile man with a kid who happens to be in the same school where April teaches, which leads to the kind of scene where the teacher is red-faced by having the kid notice that she is having a ‘sleep over’ with the father. Firth’s character, Frank, tries hard to start up a relationship with April and aggressively pushes her onto his kids, but naturally he isn’t very understanding of the fact that she’s still seeing her almost-husband on the side, here and there. Usually, a romantic comedy of this type would set up the love triangle but make it more or less clear from the start who is going to win out and who isn’t, so Then She Found Me deserves some credit for going a more complicated route and portraying all of these characters as seriously flawed. Frank, for instance, is prone to yelling and storming around in an absolute rage, which is never a good sign. Ben is worse, having nothing whatsoever going on in his life. Perhaps the biggest running theme of Then She Found Me is adoption, but the film skirts around any actual debate on the merits and demerits of the practice. Something about the fact that April herself was adopted has created in her a great antipathy to the idea of adopting in general, but most of the film’s conversations play out like this: ‘Why don’t you just adopt?’ I’m not adopting a baby from China !’ There’s not much more depth to the discussions than that, which is a shame â€“ adoption is an issue that’s not exactly over-discussed these days. The film is also on shaky ground when it continually repeats the same set-up over and over: April’s wacko of a birth mother does something horrible and then begs for forgiveness and April forgives her. Would you really forgive someone who told you lies on the level of: your father is Steve McQueen? On the other hand, Helen Hunt is good at playing the wounded or betrayed woman, and she understandably gives herself several opportunities to shine in this performance. Whether or not you enjoy Then She Found Me will simply depend on whether you’re in the market for an acceptable romantic dramedy at the moment, and whether you’re a Helen Hunt fan. There’s nothing really more earth-shattering than that going on, although Hunt has shown enough proficiency with her first film that I’d certainly be open to seeing more stuff by her in the future. She certainly knows how to handle the basics of moviemaking and how to put an intriguing cast together — apart from scoring Bette Midler and Colin Firth and Matthew Broderick, she also got Salman Rushdie to appear in this thing, if you can believe that. Rushdie plays a doctor who performs sonograms on April a couple of times throughout the film. There were no press notes available for this picture, so there wasn’t an opportunity to get an explanation for why Rushdie makes this rare apperance. Maybe he’s a big fan of Mad About You, and owns the entire series on DVD and watches it on rainy afternoons. Who knows?
BoxOffice Magazine TIFF 2007: Then She Found Me Helen Hunt falls back on the chick-flick formula in her directorial debut by – Susan Green **1/2 Distributor: ThinkFilm 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, Huntâ€™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 thereâ€™s a mensch waiting just around the corner. April hasnâ€™t yet digested Benjaminâ€™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 donâ€™t forget Bette Midler as the adopted Aprilâ€™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 Mâ€™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.
Variety Magazine Then She Found Me By JOE LEYDON A ThinkFilm release of an Odyssey Entertainment presentation of a Killer Films production in association with Blue Rider Films and John Wells Prods. Produced by Pamela Koffler, Katie Roumel, Christine Vachon, Helen Hunt, Connie Tavel. Executive producers, John Wells, Chip Signore, Louise Goodsill, Ralph Kamp, Victor Levin, Walter Josten, Jeff Geoffray, Howard Behar. Co-producer, Matthew Myers. Directed by Helen Hunt. Screenplay, Alice Arlen, Victor Levin, Hunt, based on the novel by Elinor Lipman. April – Helen Hunt Frank – Colin Firth Bernice – Bette Midler Ben – Matthew Broderick Freddy – Ben Shenkman Alan – John Benjamin Hickey Thesp Helen Hunt makes an exceptionally deft and self-assured debut as a multi-hyphenate with “Then She Found Me,” a smart, subtle and seriously funny dramedy bound to find favor with sophisticated auds. Given the blood-sport that is theatrical distribution in today’s highly competitive indie marketplace, pic will require slow rollout, savvy marketing and high-profile tub-thumping by its director-star to generate awareness and realize potential. Appreciative reviews and word-of-mouth should help, but the real pay-off may not come until viewers find Hunt’s labor of love in ancillary venues. Hunt the auteur is well-served by Hunt the actress in the lead role of April Epner, a 39-year-old New York schoolteacher who’s painfully aware of her ticking biological time clock. She’s ambivalent about her experiences as an adopted child, despite her regard for her ailing adoptive mother (Lynn Cohen), but that makes her even more eager, if not desperate, to have a child of her own. Unfortunately, April’s parenting plans are cut short when Ben (Matthew Broderick), her boyishly immature husband of a few months, decides their marriage was “a mistake.” (He, not she, bursts out crying during a seriocomic break-up scene.) Frank (Colin Firth), a recently divorced father of one of April’s students, offers brutally pragmatic advice : “Don’t do anything until you’ve slept. Don’t let anybody try to set you up with anyone.” But just when April’s life is returning to an even keel, her adoptive mother dies. So April is all the more emotionally vulnerable — and, at the same time, warily skeptical — when brassy, self-absorbed Bernice (Bette Milder), a local TV talkshow host, introduces herself to April and says she’s her biological mother. Working from a novel by Elinor Lipman, which she adapted with co-scripters Alice Arlen and Victor Levin, Hunt prioritizes consistency of tone and appropriateness of scale, even while maneuvering through vertiginous mood swings. Pic often is extremely funny, but the comedy always remains rooted in sharply and warmly observed reality. (A nice touch: Most of the characters are Jewish, and their traditions clearly mean much to them.) To be sure, there’s a least one instance of casting as a kind of sight gag — Salman Rushdie (yes, that Salman Rushdie) cameos as a bemused obstetrician — but even this isn’t played for big yucks. Indeed, “Then She Found Me” is a low-key comedy in which characters always seem just one misstep away from full-out tragedy. Hunt effectively deglamorizes herself as Alice, often appearing positively gaunt as the schoolteacher steels herself for life’s next curveball. At the same time, she conveys nimble intelligence and self-deprecating humor, winning attributes that solidify her claim on aud sympathies. As a filmmaker, Hunt makes wise choices with a consistency that bespeaks of skill and sensitivity. Better still, she avoids predictability. Bernice’s assistant (John Benjamin Hickey) obviously nurses a heavy crush on his employer , but absolutely nothing comes of this. And when Alice confronts Bernice about the real reason why, long ago, the older woman put her infant daughter up for adoption, Bernice’s innate selfishness is neither denied nor decried. That Bernice remains amusing and engaging is a tribute to Midler’s shrewd underplaying of a character that could come off as a caricature. The same sort of emotional truth resounds in Firth’s portrayal of sweet-natured fellow who’s genuinely startling in his ferocious anger and deep anguish when he feels he has been betrayed. Ben may be the most lightweight character in the mix, but Matthew makes the fellow’s Peter Pan Syndrome oddly poignant. Production values are solid for a small-budget indie. With: Lynn Cohen, Salman Rushdie. Camera (color), Peter Donahue; editor, Pam Wise; music, David Mansfield; production designer, Stephen Beatrice; costume designer, Donna Zakowska; sound, Ken Ishii; assistant director, Chip Signore; casting, Bernie Telsey. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Special Presentation), Sept. 9, 2007. Running time: 100 MIN.
Mister D:Ms. Mish is a dedicated Colin Firth fan. She went to the screening of “Then She Found Me” in Toronto and I begged her to send us a review. She said that the BetteHeads will love this movie and Bette’s character. So enjoy another review Review: Then She Found Me Author: Ms. Mish September 16, 2007
Here’s my mini-review of TSFM, which I absolutely LOVED! The audience response was enthusiastic and noisy and boisterous. Lots of laughing, loud applause, standing “O” at the end. Please don’t read if you don’t want to see plot spoilers! What can I say? I had assumed (erroneously) that TSFM would be another light, fluffy, here-today-gone-tomorrow rom/com in the manner of another Colin Firth film, Hope Springs. So glad to have been proven wrong! On one level, TSFM is about finding love, but what it’s really about is finding family, in all its forms. Bernice (Helen’s biological mom, played brilliantly by Bette Midler) wants to find the daughter she gave away for adoption. The Epners (April’s adoptive parents) had two children, one adopted, one biological, but we see throughout the film how April’s brother, despite the lack of genes in common, is always there for April. April, despite the loving family she acquired through adoption, wants a biological child of her own, yet resists Bernice’s comic and poignant motherly overtures. And Frank – Colin’s character – has two children he is raising on his own. He is lonely, bitter, angry, wounded, yet you know he adores those kids and is doing his best. “Then She Found Me” refers to his character as much as Helen’s – Frank needs rescuing as well! Every character in the film needs to accept the imperfections in those they love before they can find happiness. April’s adoptive parents were not perfect, but they loved her and did their best. Bernice is a vain, self-aggrandizing character who had to make a life-changing decision as a teenager that haunts her as an adult. (I loved Helen Hunt’s reasoning for choosing Midler. She said at the Q&A session on Sunday that Bernice is nowhere near as famous as Bette Midler, but likes to think she is!) Frank is betrayed not only by his faithless wife, but by April, and the resulting angry confrontation is one of the finest moments of the film. His hurt is heartbreaking to witness, and the viewer has to wonder if the two will ever “find” each other again. It is a beautiful, emotional moment when they do. (No actor portrays heartbreak and redemption as well as Colin.) I love the dialogue in that scene, which of course I can’t remember verbatim, but its gist is that the two don’t promise to never hurt each other again, but accept the idea that they will go on when they inevitably do. “Forgiveness is the fragrance that the flower leaves on the heel of the one that crushed it.” Not sure where that quote originated, but it was running through my head after I saw the film. Frank and April both had a lot to forgive, but in the end, what you remember is the loveliness of the life they (along with Bernice) find together. Their willingness to accept an untraditional version of the “perfect” family is what makes life “perfect” for them. One final, visual surprise in the last moments of the film can’t fail to bring a smile to your face, but that’s one spoiler I am going to keep to myself! Most of the film was filmed in Brooklyn, NY, where I grew up. April’s mom is buried at Greenwood Cemetery, where my maternal grandparents are buried. There is a scene on Shore Road, with the Verazzano Bridge in the background, right across the street from my high school. My boyfriend (now husband) and I often sat on those benches and, as we said in those days, “made out!” So thank you, Helen, for a real NYC film that doesn’t scream out “Hollywood!”Mister D: And thank you, Ms. Mish! Love, Mister D
THEN SHE FOUND ME – Hollywood Reporter TORONTO – Playing like an adult woman’s rejoinder to the Peter Pan factor in recent rom-coms, “Then She Found Me” prefers the mature man to the overgrown boy, gets knocked up without freaking out, and never — well, maybe once — goes for the startling gag over the pointed observation. With subtle laughs but solid emotional thrust, it will play very well with older audiences. In her debut as feature director, Helen Hunt also stars as a teacher whose husband has a change of heart after less than a year of marriage. The earth beneath her continues to shake as her adoptive mother dies and her purportedly real one — self-obsessed talk show host Bernice, played with pushy panache by Bette Midler — makes her presence known. Not a good time for new love, which makes the immediate arrival of Frank such a perfect vehicle for Colin Firth’s patented choked-back-emotions act. Frank is the recently-divorced dad of April’s student, and the two make a valiant (but doomed, natch) attempt not to ask each other out. Their quick rapport contrasts with the tentative relationship, threatened by half-truths and showbiz flakiness, between April and Bernice. Then April, who has been worrying about getting too old to have a child, learns her estranged husband got her pregnant on the night he left — just the spark needed to kick all the plot’s tricky relationships into high gear at once. April’s poor obstetrician (a truly left-field celeb cameo) hardly knows how many supporters she’ll have with her each time she’s due for an ultrasound. Things are moving quickly, but Hunt aims for restrained believability rather than glossy bounce. The script isn’t afraid to crack a joke, but it also doesn’t want to exploit April’s angst for cute laughs; accordingly, Hunt the director allows Hunt the actress to look realistically beat-down from time to time. The relatively sober mood means that when things turn ugly, the blow-ups don’t come off as manufactured plot points. (That’s particularly true with Firth’s character, a memorably damaged suitor.) The picture is set apart not only by its tone but by the way it takes seriously some elements that might get reduced to window-dressing in a movie more carefully engineered to reach the broadest audience: details of the protagonist’s Jewish upbringing, for instance, but especially the attitude toward children, who here aren’t fashion accessories but an essential part of the way April and Frank think about where they stand with each other. That’s not the kind of consequence-factoring theme you find in the average date movie, but it helps give “Then She Found Me” a character that many viewers will respond to.
Screendaily.com Then She Found Me Allan Hunter in Toronto 11 Sep 2007 12:42 Dir: Helen Hunt US. 2007. 100mins It’s all about family in Then She Found Me, a thoughtful directorial debut from actress Helen Hunt that explores the ties that bind and the search for meaningful relationships. The potential for heart-tugging excess is largely avoided in an approach that favours discretion over flashy histrionics. The material may still be too soapy for some tastes but older chic flick aficionados will appreciate a likable mixture of laughter, tears and home truths that is marked by a welcome sense of restraint. The audience that identified with In Her Shoes or swooned over several helpings of Bridget Jones’s Diary should provide the core demographic for Then She Found Me and ensure a decent theatrical success domestically although international prospects will be softer. In the decade since As Good As It Gets, Hunt has amassed a number of interesting credits without ever finding another role that matched the complexity and pathos of her Oscar-winning performance opposite Jack Nicholson. That may partially explain why she has written, produced and directed a film that that not only contains that elusive role but proves she has the ability to carve out a second career in the director’s chair. Then She Found Me is an adaptation of Elinor Lipman’s 1990 heartwarmer that has been updated and altered to a point where it is almost unrecognisable beyond the bare bones of some plot elements. The adaptation loses some of the wry subtleties and bitter ironies of the novel but that is unlikely to be a major issue for mainstream filmgoers. Hunt stars as April Epner, a thirty-nine year-old teacher who is abandoned by her immature husband Ben (Broderick) hours before the death of her adopted mother. She is desperate to have a child and find a mate in that order. Her prayers are answered all too easily by her sudden attraction to middle-aged divorcee and father of two Frank (Firth). The complications are only just beginning as she is then approached by television celebrity Bernice Graves (Midler) who claims to be the mother who gave her up for adoption all these years ago after a brief liaison with Steve McQueen. Then She Found Me is a mid-life crisis played out in scenarios where too many options complicate rather than ease the burden of deciding what April really wants from life. Frank is just perfect but ex-husband Ben remains inexplicably irresistible. The irrepressible Bernice could be a girl’s best friend if April could only believe a word that the needy, self-dramatising woman utters. Hunt avoids the temptation of a first time feature director to use the film as a calling card that displays her virtuosity with the camera and fondness for pyrotechnics. Instead, she takes a very measured, mature approach in which careful compositions and unobtrusive camerawork are used to serve the story with classical elegance. Her empathy with actors is one of the film’s strongest virtues. Bette Midler resists the temptation to paint Bernice as a grand dame life force. Subdued and disciplined, she creates something real and believable rather than indulging the easier instinct of high camp, larger than life. Firth is cast to type as the diffident, self-deprecating English romantic but seems more comfortable here than in recent outings like When Did You Last See Your Father. There is also a bizarre cameo from a slightly bemused Salaman Rushdie as a genial gynaecologist. Hunt is excellent in a role that plays to her well-honed strengths for bittersweet drama and it is not inconceivable that she might attract awards consideration for a finely nuanced performance that dominates every frame of the film. Ten years after As Good As It Gets and disappointments like Pay It Back and Curse Of The Jade Scorpion, Hunt has finally found a creative second wind. Production Companies Killer Films (US) Blue Rider (US) John Wells Productions (US) International Sales Odyssey Entertainment (UK) (44) 207 520-5614 Producers Pamela Koffler Katie Roumel Connie Tavel Christine Vachon Helen Hunt Screenplay Alice Arlen Victor Levin Helen Hunt based on the novel by Elinor Lipman Cinematography Peter Donahue Production design Stephen Beatrice Editor Pam Wise Music David Mansfield Main cast Helen Hunt Colin Firth Bette Midler Matthew Broderick Screen International is the premier source of information on the global film business. To subscribe visit: www.subscription.co.uk/screen/seav
Pop Matters Movie Review: Then She Found Me Matt Mazur Actors directing themselves can turn out really well because of their innate understanding of the medium, but more often they just turn into vain, preening bombs. I have never been a fan of Helen Hunt. At all. I really disliked her critically popular television series Mad About You, and I got really pissed off when she took Judi Denchâ€™s deserved Oscar win for Mrs. Brown away from her for the capable, but schmaltzy James L. Brooks crowd-pleaser As Good as It Gets. I cheered when her annoying character got shot in the head in Bobby. I was fully prepared to bring my grudge into this theater and take it out on her. Then something quite impossible happened: Hunt won me over with this surprisingly assured, well-made directorial debut. Taking a cue from an old New York master, Hunt seems to be channeling Woody Allen with her first film. Then She Found Me is a sweet little film about the travails of real people dealing with messy life situations. In the film (adapted from a 1990 Elinor Lipman novel), Hunt plays April Epner, a kindergarten teacher who we meet on the day of her wedding to fellow teacher Ben. As much as I did not like many of Huntâ€™s critical successes prior to this movie, it is likely that she is able to direct herself in such a distinct, natural way because of her experience with working in this genre. This is familiar territory, as far as the delicate balance between whimsy, comedy, dramatics, and romance goes; only this time it doesnâ€™t suck. April is a 39 year-old adopted child with a sibling who was not adopted. She hears her biological clock ticking loudly, but the advice of her mother (the great character actress Lynn Cohen) is â€œadopt a babyâ€. It worked for her, so it will work for April, who feels it necessary to have her own, as she thinks that it will just â€œfeel differentâ€. The problem is that Ben thinks he made a mistake in marrying her and isnâ€™t interested in doing anything other than leaving. To make matters worse, Aprilâ€™s mother dies suddenly. Not exactly the ideal time for conception. Hunt does a really nice job of exploring what it is like for single women in their 30s to feel the pressure to have a child before they are too old. People are constantly asking freshly-separated April when sheâ€™s going to get pregnant (and isnâ€™t it funny that it is somehow ok for people to assault women with this sort of intimate question in reality?). Going on 40, she realizes that it might not happen after all and she is trying to come to terms with it. She meets Frank (Colin Firth, doing his wry, romantic comedy thing) at school the day after her husband leaves her and he becomes almost instantly taken with her. Talk about bad timing. Not only is she his sonâ€™s teacher, recently divorced, and on the edge of a nervous breakdown, now she finds herself reciprocating his affections, much to her dismay. The two fall hard and fast for one another. Then an even bigger whirlwind of complication (or maybe more like a â€œtyphoonâ€ of complication) hits her hard: her biological mother comes from out of the woodwork to reconnect. At her motherâ€™s funeral April notices a mystery man lurking in the crowd staring at her. He turns up again at her school with a proposition: he represents her mother, who requests to lunch with her the following day. Curious, and more than a little confused, April neurotically consents. Bernice (Bette Midler), an uproarious television talk show hostess, barges into her long-lost daughterâ€™s life with a shocking boldness, bound and determined to worm her way back into the womanâ€™s life come hell or high water. Rightfully, April is skeptical, and perhaps since her life is in such an upturned state, she gives the mystery woman a chance. The relationship the two forge is the cornerstone of the film, and it is a genuinely funny and touching alliance. When April finds out that her â€œone last timeâ€ with Ben has gotten her pregnant, he returns (the scene with both of her men at the ultra sound is especially well done). It looks as though the two might get back together, but when the pregnancy fails, it becomes clear that she is meant to be with Frank. Hunt makes quite a few interesting comments on motherhood with this film, beginning with the notion that having children is not something only for the nubile, and continuing with the idea that sometimes it is ok not to have your own children at all. And she argues that that while kids can be fulfilling and rewarding, if they donâ€™t end up happening, life moves on, and there are always options for people who feel destined to be parents. The film overall is more than worthy of an audienceâ€™s love, and Hunt is aces in her role (there is a professional maturity in her that comes across nicely), but the filmmakers and studio should drop all plans for mounting any sort of awards campaign for itâ€™s star, and concentrate their time, money, and efforts on securing a Supporting Actress nomination for Midlerâ€”who could feasibly walk away with the gold next year if positioned correctly. If ever there was a time to be hading out â€œcareer achievementâ€ or â€œmake-upâ€ Oscars, this is itâ€”Midler has not ever given such a clever, well-rounded and subdued performance. Kudos must be given to Hunt for directing the legend in her best role in more than 20 years. Graciously, she allows the revered veteran to steal every scene sheâ€™s in. Midler continues to hold audiences in the palm of her hand after all these years, this time with her first actual â€œcharacter roleâ€ since maybe her Oscar nominated, doomed singer in The Rose all the way back in 1979. She really disappears as Berniceâ€”she isnâ€™t â€œBette Midlerâ€ the outrageous, loveable wisecracker that everyone adores (even though her outrageously loveable character isnâ€™t really too much of a stretch). Often Midlerâ€™s acting ability can unfortunately get buried behind her other talents (singing, comedy, etc.), but here she proves that female performers over 50 still have a few tricks up their sleeves. One of the saddest causalities of the war on â€œwomen of a certain ageâ€, Midler was, for years, one of the most bankable, watched performers of her time, and then sadly, like many actresses who hit that magical age, she stopped getting parts worthy of her talent. Midler, surely, is not losing sleep over her lack of acting gigs, but hopefully this showcase can serve as a wake up call for casting agents to start thinking outside the box. Thankfully, Hunt gets it. It will be interesting to see if her next move will be as a director or an actress or something else altogether. Women telling intimate stories like this that donâ€™t devolve into television movie garbage need to be given more money to tell simple, real stories about women in this age group (and they need to direct and star in them too). Because the star and director of this film is a woman in her middle age, the public probably wonâ€™t buy it, but it will be their loss. Preconceptions about this one should be disposed of right now.
From Ms. Elinor Lipman Mister D: Still taking a sabbatical, but I thought this was news you’d want to hear. Hopefully will see you BetteHeads soon. Take care of yourselves.
Dear Friends, THEN SHE FOUND ME was screened Friday night (9/7) at the Toronto Film Festival, and my spies tell me: standing ovation. It sold the same night to a distributor, detailed below in the company’s press release (i.e. Varietyspeak). No release date, but will of course keep you posted.ThinkFilm nabs ‘She Found Me’ Helen Hunt’s directorial debut sold in Toronto Helen Hunt’s directorial debut, “Then She Found Me,” sold to ThinkFilm in the first high-profile bidding action of the Toronto Film Festival. The Weinstein Co. and Lionsgate were also in the running. It is expected to be one of Think’s most aggressive releases to date. The pact was firmed up overnight Friday, with a dinner hosted by CAA, which reps Hunt and the film, seeing drop-ins by bidders including Harvey Weinstein. “Then She Found Me,” based on a popular novel by Elinor Lipman, stars Hunt, Bette Midler, Colin Firth, and Matthew Broderick.
“Then She Found Me” Review TIFF Films And Schedules MichÃ¨le Maheux Country: USA Year: 2007 Language: English Runtime: 100 minutes Format: Colour/35mm Rating: PG Cast & Crew Production Company: Killer Films Executive Producer: Ralph Kamp, Louise Goodsill, Chip Signore Producer: Pamela Koffler, Katie Roumel, Christine Vachon, Connie Tavel, Helen Hunt Screenplay: Helen Hunt, Vic Levin, Alice Arlen, based on the novel by Elinor Lipman Cinematographer: Peter Donahue Editor: Pam Wise Production Designer: Stephen Beatrice Sound: Ken Ishii Music: David Mansfield Principal Cast: Helen Hunt, Bette Midler, Colin Firth, Matthew Broderick Film Description and Director Biography Helen Hunt both stars in and makes her debut in the directorâ€™s chair with Then She Found Me, a very funny and deeply moving story about the way we create families both by blood and by choice. April Epner (Hunt) is thirty-nine years old. Her biological clock is not so much ticking as sounding an alarm; her charming but immature husband, Ben (Matthew Broderick), decides their recent marriage is a mistake; and her ailing adoptive mother, whom April has been nursing through her illness, dies. As if this werenâ€™t enough to deal with, a brassy, overbearing local talk-show host named Bernice Graves (a scream of a turn from Bette Midler) shows up out of the blue, announcing herself as Aprilâ€™s biological mother. And she has incredible news: April is the result of a one-night stand Bernice had with Steve McQueen nearly forty years ago. Devastated on the one hand and bewildered on the other, April finds solace from her rapidly unravelling life in a growing relationship with Frank (Colin Firth), a handsome, warm and suddenly single dad whose wife recently abandoned him and their children. As this new relationship blossoms, Aprilâ€™s general state of confusion gets considerably worse when she finds out that she is pregnant. Hunt is wonderful as the gentle, determined April, who battles through emotional minefields in order to find herself at peace with the world. As the boisterous Ben, Broderick is all boyish charm, while Firth captures Frankâ€™s stiff upper lip magnificently. And Midler displays characteristic bombast as Bernice, a force of nature who gusts into Aprilâ€™s life and throws it into disarray. Her larger-than-life presence forces April to question her neat, self-made identity, bringing up spectres of the past she had long learned to live without. With Then She Found Me, Hunt combines her glowing screen presence with impressive directorial finesse, marking a new high in an already accomplished career. TIFF FILMS AND SCHEDULES Love, Mister D