In the 1990s it was hard to overlook Helen Hunt. Her sitcom, Mad About You, ran from 1992 to 1999 and was one of the highest rated shows on television. She was nominated for Best Actress Emmy Awards seven years in row and in 1998 alone she won a Golden Globe, an Oscar and an Emmy Award. Since the millennium, however, she has been taking it easy. Mad About You is in reruns, but now looks dated, more like an ode to Yuppie living than anything else; and since 2000, when she appeared in no less than four movies, her big screen appearances have been limited.
Her latest project, a family dramedy called Then She Found Me, sees her both in front of and behind the camera, starring as April, a thirty-nine-year-old schoolteacher who loses her husband (Matthew Broderick) and adopted mother in rapid succession. In the aftermath of those upheavals two new characters enter her life, the depressed but charming father (Colin Firth) of one of her students and her birth mother (Bette Midler), a flamboyant talk show host.
Then She Found Me is about many things—dealing with death, a ticking biological clock, growing up—but above all it is about trust. April must learn to trust in people and relationships and it is that … on which the entire movie hangs.
Hunt shows a strong hand behind the camera, effectively blending the rom com aspects of the story with human tragedy. There are some very funny moments, but by and large it is a downbeat story buoyed by Hunt’s snappy direction. You don’t work on a sit com for a decade without learning a thing or two about keeping the story chugging along. Occasionally though the television training works against her, as the half-hour comedy format seeps into the dialogue and scene transitions. Stylistically Then She Found Me works best when Hunt (who also co-wrote the screenplay) grounds the situations in reality. The odd misstep here and there only happens when she strays from the realism of the characters and allows the whole thing to drift into mild melodrama.
Despite its lapses, Then She Found Me is a small movie with some nice intimate moments and an interesting unvarnished view of human relationships that you don’t often see in film anymore