Then She Found Me is actress Helen Hunt’s directorial debut. I am always a bit wary when it comes to movies directed by actors. Sure, many actors such as Clint Eastwood, Jon Favreau, and Robert Redford have made the move from actor to director admirably. But not all of them have, and actor-directed movies tend to concentrate a lot on “acting”. Oftentimes important things like story and believability are put on the back burner.
While Then She Found Me does have plenty of “acting” moments it does have a decent, believable storyline.
Helen Hunt plays April, a schoolteacher who is “39 ½ years old and has never been pregnant”. She is desperately trying to have a baby while she still can. The rest of her life is in disarray. She and her husband Ben (Matthew Broderick) divorce because he is not ready to grow up and be a father. Her adopted mother (Lynn Cohen) dies the day after Ben leaves. She is contacted by her supposed birth mother, Bernice Graves (Bette Midler). Bernice is a local celebrity and April is wary that Bernice may be using her for publicity. Bernice’s stories do not seem to add up and April is unsure if she is really her birth mother.
Throughout all this April has met Frank (Colin Firth), the father of one of April’s students. Frank’s wife left him to care for his children alone. He and April understand and are attracted to each other because of this, and their love of children. April and Frank start semi-dating.
The rest of the plot deals with April’s quest for a baby which involves Frank, Ben, and Bernice. April must decide whether or not to treat Bernice as a mother. She also must decide whether Ben or Frank is the man for her.
The centerpiece of the movie is Helen Hunt’s April. Hunt makes you feel April’s pain and desperation. Colin Firth also does an admirable job as Frank. Not many actors could play someone who is believable as a good father and a rage-aholic at the same time. Matthew Broderick’s Ben seems largely blank, but that may be the point. Bette Midler is basically playing the same character she always plays. Bernice is the tough, kooky character that you are unsure if she has your best interests or hers in mind. Midler’s Bernice is immensely unlikable at times, and April’s savior at others.
Helen Hunt the director did alright, but not great. As already mentioned, she ably directed herself and Colin Firth, if not the other actors. She does not do anything flashy with the camera, but the scenes are presented perfectly fine. The screenplay could have used some more polish. At the beginning of the movie, all the different plots seem shoe-horned together, not organically related to April. The movie’s narrative gets a bit chaotic and the audience is unsure of where the story is going.
The choice of soundtrack is terrible. The gentle acoustic soundtrack is ham-fisted, telegraphing all the emotions of the characters instead of simply enhancing them.
Then She Found Me is a fine showcase of Helen Hunt’s acting and may be the first step in her career as a director. It is not however, a classic drama or romantic comedy. It is a decent to below average one.