Life is complicated, as we all know, but those complications don't always make it into movies, which like to smooth over the rough spots, streamline the plot. And that's what makes Then She Found Me such a refreshing change of pace - literally, in the sense that the scenes take their time, but also metaphorically, in the sense that the movie's often as messy as life is. Starring Helen Hunt, who also directed it, co-produced and co-wrote the script, Then She Found Me is yet another I-want-a-child-and-I-want-it-now movie, but not just that. It's about how the people we depend on can't always be depended on but we just have to go right on depending on them anyway. Alternative title: As Good As It Gets.
Hunt plays April Epner, a 39-year-old kindergarten teacher whose desire to have her own child may have something to do with having been adopted. But her newlywed husband (Matthew Broderick, in wet-noodle mode) is a bit of a child himself, revealing that he "made a mistake" and wants out of the marriage. Meanwhile, April's birth mother, played by Bette Midler, storms back into April's life, eager to make up for lost time. And romance rears its ugly head again in the form of Colin Firth, who plays a shell-shocked veteran of his own ill-fated marriage. Like plates kept spinning, these storylines run in parallel, and you start to wonder whether they don't all deserve their own movies. But Hunt holds it all together, both as director and star.
As star, she lets her face sag, her wrinkles collect at the sides of her mouth. And she does that thing she does, removing all traces of actor's vanity. As a director, she may have miscalculated the scenes with Midler. Playing a TV personality who's always on, the Divine Miss M could and should have chewed more scenery. The scenes between Hunt and Firth, on the other hand, are a pas de deux in the push-pull of love. Afraid to commit and afraid not to, their characters circle each other, then lunge. And Firth, who seems like a stallion one moment, a skittish colt the next, shows us a whole new side of himself: the total nut job. Every woman should have to fend off Colin Firth, of course. To his credit, Firth makes it seem like both a delightful and a frightful prospect.