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Bob Rueland (David Duchovny) owns a successful Chicago construction co. In wedded bliss with Elizabeth (Joely Richardson), a sexy primatologist, the two plan to build a funky new enclosure for the zoo’s gorilla family. But after a swanky fund-raising party for the project, Elizabeth is fatally wounded in a car accident, and Bob is left to pick up the pieces. At the same time, Grace Briggs (Minnie Driver) is on her deathbed awaiting a donor for a life-saving heart transplant operation. A donor is found at the last minute, and Grace gets a new lease on life. One year later, both are beginning hesitant dips into the dating pool. A chance meeting at Grace’s family’s Irish-Italian restaurant spells love at first sight. But as things progress between the badly scarred survivors, Grace will uncover the shocking secret of their attraction.

You know that old gag about wanting to walk out during an in-flight movie? That's precisely what I wanted to do while watching this ludicrous piece of romantic claptrap on KLM 844 en route from Amsterdam to Singapore. A spectacular combination of desperate plotting, charisma-challenged performers, nauseating dialogue and deadly length made this sentimental slop one of the most gruelling ordeals in recent memory. I was left with the sombre reflection that Return To Me cannot return to me the 111 minutes of my life it occupied.

So, what's it all about? Well, there's this architect called Rob (David Duchovny) whose wife (Joely Richardson) has just died. Across town there's waitress Grace (Minnie Driver) who works for her Irish grandfather (Carroll O'Connor) at his Italian restaurant. Grace has a dicky ticker and wouldn't you know it, she's given Rob's wife's heart in a transplant operation. Hey, presto - Rob's romantic radar leads him to Grace (you can get anything you want at Grace's restaurant) and there you have it; an inspired means of bringing these two lovebirds together.

Insipid is barely adequate to describe the nature of Bonnie Hunt's directorial debut. I don't know who anointed Minnie Driver as an appealing screen presence and I'd have been much happier if she'd died so that Richardson might live. At nearly two hours it is also criminally overlong for such a wafer-thin premise.

Other offences include reinforcing that tired notion that every restaurant in Chicago is a daytime haven for crusty old duffers who sit around gesticulating wildly and arguing before the proprietor's daughter/granddaughter/niece appears and inspires them to band together and help her find the path of true love - angiogram results notwithstanding. Of the older brigade Carroll O'Connor is the worst offender - the veteran hambone deserves a ticket for unrestrained scenery-chewing and faltering Irish accent violations.

Now, having said all that it's possible some viewers will be taken by this confection. With a couple of glasses of sparkling white wine and a packet of Tim Tams handy, this may seem like a breezy romantic romp with a touching humanity about it. If so, you may also be interested in Bonnie Hunt's commentary track and the deleted scenes that make up this sugar-coated item."
Richard Kuipers

On the other hand . . .

"Maybe I'm easy to please, but I really enjoyed this warm uplifting romantic comedy with a touch of Hollywood magic. Return To Me is lighthearted enough to chill out on, but has enough poignant moments to stir the emotions. I think it's a terrific debut for Bonnie Hunt and while it may be true that it is in part a sugar-coated item, it has a freshness and a lightness that is hugely appealing. Much of the magic comes from the hilarious matchmaking attempts, the family chaos and the irresistible Irish/Catholic/Italian restaurant lifestyle in the middle of Chicago. The wonderful characters are brought to life by marvellous performances that cocoon the two central characters (Minnie Driver is enchanting), making it a happy ride indeed in the armchair of romantic escapism."
Louise Keller

Published May 31, 2001

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CAST: David Duchovny, Minnie Driver, Carroll O’Connor, James Belushi, Robert Loggia, Bonnie Hunt
DIRECTOR: Bonnie Hunt

RUNNING TIME: 111 minutes

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: February 7, 2001

Director's Commentary
Music Video "What If I Love You"
Deleted Scenes
Languages: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish
Subtitles: English, English, German, Dutch, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish, Polish, Greek, Hungarian.

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