Starring: David Duchovny, Minnie Driver, Carroll O’Connor
Director: Bonnie Hunt
RETURN to Me is an engaging “feel good” film.
Bob Rueland (played by David Duchovny) loses his wife Elizabeth (Joely Richardson) in a car accident. He consents to her heart being used for a transplant. The heart goes to Grace Briggs (Minnie Driver). Not knowing the connection they have, Grace and Bob meet and fall in love. Eventually Bob has to deal with the idea that Elizabeth died that Grace might live. This tender premise raises more interesting issues than the usual romantic comedy.
Grace comes from a devoutly Catholic family. Her Irish grandfather, Marty O’Reilly (Carroll O’Connor) prays that every situation in Grace’s life works out for the best.
O’Connor leads a superb cast of supporting actors who live and work at his O’Reilly’s Italian Restaurant. The dialogue is good and the humour is free of the cynicism to which so many other films resort for laughs.
Duchovny and Driver have their work cut out for them making the script work as a whole. The film trades on the old romantic notion that the heart “thinks”. Grace’s new heart, literally, skips a beat when she walks past Bob for the first time. Bob wonders why he is so instantly attracted to Grace at their first meeting.
Writer/director Bonnie Hunt refuses to accept the fact that brains make decisions. To enjoy this film we have to forget our science and go with it.
The central dramatic question of Return to Me is pretty weak as well. The only reason Grace does not tell
Bob sooner that she had a heart transplant seems to be that the film would have ended earlier. I think, however, a quicker revelation of this fact could have led to a much more interesting exploration of Bob’s grief and the decision he took that Elizabeth’s death should not be in vain.
Return to Me gives us enough laughs and warm characters for us to feel very good by the end.