Ossus Library Index Drama Movie Index

RETURN TO ME

Directed by Bonnie Hunt (2000, MGM Pictures)
Starring David Duchovny, Minnie Driver, Bonnie Hunt, and Carroll O'Connor

A woman and man are drawn together when she unknowingly gets his wife's heart in a transplant.

 

 

4 stars

March 19th, 2001 on Video

 
    A very entertaining, heartwarming story, where every emotion and reaction was completely believable.

Although the movie started out choppy, it overcame that soon enough, and escalated into a great romance. As Bob dealt with despair over losing the love of his life, Grace rejoiced in the second chance at life given to her by a heart transplant, made possible by the death of Bob's wife. 

The love between Bob and his wife was made plain for all to see in the opening minutes of the film. When she was lost (in a car accident? We're never shown), he mourned for over a year. He still eats take-out, and the dog still waits for her to return at the door. I don't know how believable that part is, as animals can adapt faster than people, especially when there are others to cheer up, but it symbolized all the emotion and pent-up anger and frustration that one must feel upon losing the one that you love. I don't know how I would even begin to deal with that.

I found that it was way too early for his friend Charlie to set him up on a blind date, but perhaps it was less to get him involved with somebody and more to just get him out of the house. In any case, the scene with his date, and where he meets Claire for the first time (but their hearts immediately recognize each other), is absolutely hilarious! Replacing the spring water with tap water, and the jibe about boiling things in Swedish water were priceless. 

Claire's life seems so beautiful. I love the idea of an Italian restaurant called O'Reilly's. The Irish and Italian old men were real gems, and so typical that it made me wax nostalgic for my grandparents. Between their arguing over the best singers (alive or dead) or piping music outside for Bob and Claire, or deciding who gets to walk the waitress home, they were so alive as to be the stars of this movie.

Fortunately, the two main characters also shone. Claire is so full of life, and her interactions look like a woman brought up in an Irish family. Her devotion to her grandfather is great, as are all of her reactions (like the water situation, and when Bob returns to pick up his phone- her eyes show all the embarrassment we need to see). 

Perhaps they fall in love too quickly, but I don't think so. Bob sees a woman he feels inexplicably attracted to, and he pursues her. Claire is also attracted to him. It's a perfect match. And they fit together so well that there is no need for artificial problems to creep up and separate them. This is how most relationships develop. 

So when she finally gets the courage to tell him she's had a heart transplant, and that she's very conscious of her scar, she finds a note in his house, the note that she wrote, thanking the person who donated her heart, and how deeply sorry and sad that she is that somebody had to give up life for her to live. 

It's no wonder she leaves. I would feel ashamed, too. And I would probably have his reaction, too, if I found out something like this happened. But given time to think, any normal person would realize that it's okay, and this is nothing to be ashamed about. 

When he has this realization, she's gone to live in Italy, but she can't even paint in beautiful Rome, she's so deeply affected.  She tells her story to a wonderful Italian restaurant owner, and his reaction is wonderfully downplayed. True Italy. So when Bob chases her to Italy, it's more believable than a similar scene in the movie Sabrina. And her reaction is one of relief, that he can forgive her for taking his wife's heart. 

The movie was so well made that we went from laughter to tears and back to laughter in such a normal, logical manner. The characters were true to form, the gorilla (who recognizes Claire -or her heart- instantly as his mentor) and the dog provided such poignant reminders of how people should feel, and the atmosphere was nicely quiet.

The supporting characters were quite good, too. Bonnie Hunt was wonderful, as she was in Jerry Maguire, as the supportive sister. I'm not a fan of James Beluchi, but he did a fine job here, being the lazy husband who has no pride to swallow, and he proved very funny at parts, too. And finally, the old men were great.

Aside from the choppy cutting between two plots before the merge into one, this would probably be a perfect film. Nicely subdued, well acted, and very emotional, this should be on everybody's must-see list.
 
   

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