THEN SHE FOUND ME **
APRIL EPNER (HELEN HUNT) is dangerously close to 40.
She will be exactly that on her next birthday and it is steadily approaching. She has been reasonably happily married for several years to BEN (MATTHEW BRODERICK), a man she adores. They live a resoundingly middle class life in New York state, teaching at the same elementary school.
April has always wanted to be a mother. Being with children day to day on the job is only intermittently fulfilling. She wants to have at least one baby before it’s too late. She’s been actively attempting to get pregnant and, for whatever reason, it’s just not happening.
One evening she arrives home and Ben tells her that he wants to have a serious discussion. Bursting into tears, he informs April that he has no desire for this type of life. He’s not interested in being a father or having a family. That kind of responsibility is too much for him. He needs to end the marriage.
April can’t believe her ears. She never saw this coming. But what the audience begins to understand is that April is sexually impulsive. She sees her passion as an extension of a profound solid bond. She is completely impervious to the fact that the physical side of a relationship doesn’t always stabilize it. Ben is in her age bracket but he’s astoundingly restless and immature. He leaves the house and moves back in with his mom.
April’s mother, who adopted her as an infant, is currently hospitalized. The day after her marriage breaks up, two highly significant things happen in April’s life. Her mother dies. She also meets an incredible man who appears to have everything she would want if she were confidently single and not going through all of this hell.
His name is FRANK (COLIN FIRTH) and he’s the parent of one of her students. Frank’s chronically unfaithful wife finally left him nearly 18 months ago for one of her numerous lovers, leaving him to care for their two children. He’s an aspiring writer. He and April are attracted to each other immediately but they’re both acutely aware that this is not the ideal time for either of them. Though they’re equally wary, the pull is strong and April sees a lot of potential. Frank is decent, kind and a great dad. They begin spending time together trying to figure out exactly how this should go.
Into the middle of this supreme mess walks BERNICE GRAVES (BETTE MIDLER), April’s birth mother. Bernice, of course, has no clue what April’s life is like or that she picked the worst possible time in 40 years to make contact. Bernice is a slightly eccentric, touchy feely New Age type. She’s a successful morning TV talk show host who had April when she was 15.
Bernice turns out to be not quite as truthful as April needs her to be. She tells Bernice on a number of occasions that she has no interest in continuing the relationship. But the crises keep piling up instead of dissipating and Bernice is only too happy to be there for her.
Finally April and Frank go out on an official first date. They end up sleeping together. Shortly after that, April finds out that she actually is pregnant – and it’s Ben’s.
The remainder of the movie has to do with how April gets through the following months and what decisions she makes regarding her primary relationships.
HELEN HUNT has a likable everywoman quality. However, she has a rather limited range. So she definitely needs far more than a pleasant persona to realistically portray a character in any acting project that she may undertake. She can’t rely on her girl next door charm. Her performance here is less than impressive.
THEN SHE FOUND ME is an adaptation of the novel by Elinor Lipman. HELEN HUNT coauthored the screenplay. This also happens to be Ms. Hunt’s directorial debut.
COLIN FIRTH is perfect as FRANK. He is completely believable as an endearing, lovable, somewhat cranky Brit who would move heaven and earth for April. He is far better than this film deserves. Watching BETTE MIDLER (marvelously talented as she is) trying to make sense of BERNICE is difficult at best. She is completely and utterly wasted.
SALMAN RUSHDIE plays April’s gynecologist – fabulously. He’s a natural. It’s unfortunate it had to be in this movie.
It would be lovely to state that Ms. Hunt’s direction showed some kind of potential. But, unfortunately, that is NOT the case. The picture’s a hybrid. But it’s mainly a comedy and painfully unfunny. The cinematography looks like a washed out 70s television movie. The score is clunky and annoying and the original songs are no better. The ending is entirely ridiculous. There are some terrific actors giving fine performances but to say that they’re slumming would be the height of good manners.
THEN SHE FOUND ME is a disaster of minor proportions. It’s ultimately too mediocre and inconsequential to hate. A day after you’ve seen it you can barely remember the details. Or anything else about it.
It won’t be the worst movie released this year. But it will definitely be at the very bottom of the pile.