Love is many things to many people. To the optimist, Love is patient, kind, eternally innocent, forever unfolding and inextricably bound with Faith, Hope and Fate. To the cynic, love is only an illusion at best. This film is definitely Not for a cynical audience. Return to Me recalls a more naive era, both in the film industry and in the lives of those who watch this film.
Can you remember a time when simply holding the hand of someone you loved was enough to fill your heart with peace and satisfaction? Can you remember becoming hopelessly tongue tied just because someone you were attracted to was not only looking right at you, but actually Speaking to you? Have you ever felt utterly graceless and ridiculous, your heart beating wildly with the desperate hope that the object of your affection was not looking at you that way because they have suddenly realized you Are as big an idiot as you feel you look at that moment? Have you ever been absolutely baffled by the odd and contradictory behavior of your sweetheart, yet walked away from their doorstep happy anyway? Then this film is for you!
The story is quite simple. Bob Rueland (David Duchovny) is a successful architect struggling with loneliness and grief, driven to complete a new gorilla habitat at the local zoo. Grace Briggs (Minnie Driver) is the recipient of a heart transplant struggling to live a normal life despite the over-protectiveness of Marty, her grandfather (Carroll OConnor), and the dreadful matchmaking of all her friends and family. Bobs best friend Charlie (David Alan Grier) isnt much better in the match making department, but at least he had the good taste to set up their double date at OReillys Italian Restaurant, where Bob finally meets Grace. The bond between them is immediate, complete, and nearly awe-inspiring to both of these innocent souls. Only one thing stands between them .Graces heart.
The true charm of this film lies in the chemistry between Driver and Duchovny and theheart-warming, ridiculous, and accurate portrayal of an average close knit circle of friends and family. Grace is surrounded by well meaning folks who love her dearly. Marty hovers protectively over her with the best of intentions, and words of advice that some how dont come out quite right. Like when Grace is still trying to hide the ten inch scar from her heart surgery a year ago, Youre beautiful, Gracie, and no one will notice your chest.
Her uncle Angelo (Robert Loggia) alternates between being the voice of reason for Marty, encouraging Grace in all her goals, and feeding everyone who comes across his path with the slightest problem. Their poker buddies, Wally and Emmett, are also permanent fixtures in this family who join right in whether its peering hopefully through the blinds at the lovebirds along with Marty and Angelo, or arguing over whether Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, or Bing Crosby will be the mood music that cements true love in the hearts of these young lovers.
Bonnie Hunt, as her loyal friend Megan, is her usual dry, witty, earthy self who advises Grace not to shave her legs for this first date with Bob. Why? a puzzled Grace asks. Well, that way you definitely wont let it go too far, is Megans prompt reply. You know how it is. You go out with a guy youre attracted to and suddenly everything they say sounds brilliant. Next thing you know, hairy legs are your only link to reality! The interaction between Hunt and James Belushi as her husband, Joe, is priceless as they juggle their brood of children and argue with each other amidst every thing else.
Bobs support comes mostly from Charlie, who sets him up with a shrill, self centered, materialistic harridan, and whose only reply when asked for advice on an extremely difficult situation is a stunned Wow. The only other source Bob can really turn to is his dog Mel frankly I think Mel might have been a better choice. At least Bob would have expected any blind date Mel chose for him to be a B*tch. All things considered, you cant help feeling for Bob, and wishing you could be there to help make things seem a little less overwhelming.
The chemistry between Bob and Grace is wonderfully natural, and refreshingly innocent in our own jaded era. There is no lust here, only desire and need desperate need to end loneliness, and an honest desire to be seen as a complete, capable person. Love is the key that allows our hearts to accept others into our lives as they are, flaws and all. Yet, can even love overcome the confounding truth that stands between these two? When this final piece of Fates puzzle is revealed to Grace, her new heart is broken yet again, and she does what all true lovers have probably done since the beginning of time. She rails through her tears from the depth of her being with the single cry, What was God thinking?!
Grace Briggs: Minnie Driver
Bob Rueland: David Duchovny
Marty OReilly: Carroll OConnor
Angelo Pardipillo: Robert Loggia
Megan Dayton: Bonnie Hunt
Charlie Johnson: David Alan Grier
Elizabeth Rueland: Joely Richardson
Emmett McFadden: Eddie Jones
Joe Dayton: James Belushi
Sophie: Marianne Muellerleile
Wally Jatczak: William Bronder
Director: debut of Bonnie Hunt
Screenwriters: Bonnie Hunt, Don Lake, Andrew Stern and Samantha Goodman
Released for DVD/Video in the U.S.: Oct 30, 2000
Run Time : 116 minutes
Favourite Quote: "When she met you, her heart beat truly for the first time. Maybe it was meant to be with you always." Marty
Viewing Format: VHS
Video Occasion: Good Date Movie
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 9 - 12
What did you think of this review?