Then She Found Me (2007)
Directed by: Helen Hunt | 100 minutes | drama, comedy, romance | Actors: Helen Hunt, Colin Firth, Bette Midler, Matthew Broderick, Lynn Cohen, Ben Shenkman, Salman Rushdie, Floanne Ankah, Cherise Boothe, David Callegati, Geneva Carr, Chris Chalk, Brother Eden Douglas, Audrey Elizabeth Fafard, John Benjamin Hickey, Rachel Konstantin, Stacie Linardos, Andy Miller, Tommy Nelson, Jonathan Roumie, Maggie Siff, Schuster Vance, Adrianna Bremont
It takes a while, sometimes, as in this case, ten years, to be able to make your own film. Helen Hunt felt itchy after working with James L. Brooks on the classic ‘As Good As It Gets’ (1997). This brilliant film was her big break in film land (although she was already known for the American comedy series ‘Mad About You’). The film contains exactly the ingredients that appeal to Hunt: a serious theme, which is actually treated seriously, but is laced with so much humor and joie de vivre that it is not experienced as ‘heavy’. A formula that ensures that such subjects are manageable. The worldwide success of the film proves that there is an audience for such a film. Still, it was quite a job to free up money for ‘Then She Found Me’, a film that does not immediately seek out the general public in terms of content, but just like ‘As Good As It Gets’ deserves it. The fact is, the subject is a bit more ‘normal’ and the main character is a woman who is almost forty and wants children. So no crazy characters, no hip, flashy comedy, no super funny male role, on the contrary: Colin Firth is sensitive, open and father of two children, actually the ideal man (although many young girls will probably not see it that way). All the characters are realistic except maybe the ‘new’ mother Bette Midler, the only one who turns her game up a bit, which is quite nice.
Good. The money was there, ask not where; the film had to be made independent anyway, which is only good, especially for such a subject. It gave Helen the freedom to make the film exactly the way she wanted. The mix of drama and humor worked out well, although the film did not become as funny as ‘As Good As It Gets’, the script is just a bit too modest for that and we still miss a super actor like Jack Nicholson (and a director like Brooks perhaps). Moreover, the ten years and all the hard work have clearly taken their toll. Hunt looks gray and burnt out, she is scary thin and her skin is wrinkled. The latter is not strange, because her age is not thirty-nine, as in the film, but forty-five. A visible flaw that takes some time to get over, which initially only works moderately and thus undermines the credibility a bit. In fact, Helen literally made the movie six years late. Needless to say, the story is beautiful. The theme of the film seems to be a woman’s search for a child of her own, of course, but there is much more to it. It is about faith, trust and forgiveness. Do you dare to let go of the past and go for your dream? Do you dare to trust loved ones and surrender completely to each other? All the characters in the story suffer from it, precisely that lack of trust. One just lies so as not to get hurt, the other doesn’t dare to take responsibility, and another runs away all the time, or cheats so she can be ostracized again. The desire for children strings together the characters and the story neatly, nicely done. Pay special attention to the very last scene, in which the common thread of the desire to have children is subtly rounded off, which is completely in line with the theme of acceptance and forgiveness.
Not all attempts at humor are equally successful. Under the guise of kill your darlings, a few could have come out, or Hunt should have hired someone else to write better jokes, or better direct them. It seems that she is trying to imitate humor from the above projects, but has not fully understood it, it is sometimes a bit too thick, it stands out too much. In any case, it means that the film loses in humor, but fortunately not in meaning. Because there is plenty of it and you can feel it, it comes in. People who keep it completely dry with this film have not looked or listened carefully. Because the wish for reconciliation with yourself and the world around you has been beautifully portrayed by everyone, you cannot leave that untouched. And so Helen passed her directing exam with a beautiful personal and warm film.