Straight from the heart, without restraints, Helen Hunt’s directorial debut is a fresh, funny, fascinating emotional journey.
Raised in a traditional Jewish family, April Epner (Hunt) is a 39 year-old New York primary schoolteacher whose biological clock is ticking so loudly that she can think of little else. An adoptive child herself, she is determined to conceive, much to the chagrin of her immature husband Ben (Matthew Broderick), who deems their marriage a mistake and confesses to an affair.
Obviously distraught and vulnerable at his betrayal, April encounters amorous Frank (Colin Firth), the recently divorced father of one of her young students, who cautions her, “Don’t do anything until you’ve slept. Don’t let anybody try to set you up with anyone.”
To add to April’s confusion, after her adoptive mother dies, a woman purporting to be her birth mother suddenly introduces herself. It’s Bernice (Bette Midler), the brassy host of a local morning TV talk show. Self-deprecating April is skeptical but curious, particularly when Bernice claims that actor Steve McQueen was her father. And then the real romantic complications begin.
Loosely based on a novel by Elinor Lipman and adapted by Alice Arlen, Victor Levin and Hunt, there’s vivid, nuanced storytelling with deft, intelligent dialogue laced with a sense of humor that is both defensive and revealing. Hunt’s graceful direction flows naturally and easily, giving the story an understated authenticity.
The deftly chosen, altogether believable ensemble cast is superb, plus there’s a surprise Salman Rushdie cameo as April’s obstetrician, along with Edie Falco and Janeane Garofalo as Bernice’s celebrity guests.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Then She Found Me” is a stylish yet deeply sensitive 7, lifting your spirit. No one will come away without a smile.