Well, that's what the first impression of this film leaves me with: Bette Midler, Helen Hunt, and Colin Firth are actually allowed to look their own ages, and are not made up, botoxed, done up or corseted into movie mode. And they look fabulous.
Is THEN SHE FOUND ME a 'rom-com' ?? No. Has it ever claimed to be one ? I don't think so. Is it a 'chick-flick' ?? Nope. Why are we always so desperate to attach a quick and easy label to something ? Are we so obsessed by the 30-second 'elevator pitch' ? I can decide for myself what kind of film I'm watching - and this one is excellent for its witty and often touching screenplay (I haven't read the original book, and I'm not really likely to, so for me the film can speak for itself) and its sensitive direction of an ensemble cast that is never less than excellent.
The whole film has a lovely ring of truth about it. There are plenty of laughs, plenty of drama, and some tears - it's like life, with a plot that at first glance seems to be far-fetched, but turns out to be completely believable. You can share the dilemmas, feel the frustrations, and enjoy the beautifully observed performances from the whole cast in this bittersweet tale of a mature woman's reunion with her daughter.
Bette Midler shines (as usual) as Helen Hunt's birth-mother. Always a terrific actress, she is one of those institutions that the silver screen would be poorer without. She is in good robust company: Helen Hunt, tall and slightly gawky, as the estranged daughter - eminently watchable, and totally without that element of saccharine that can so often spoil a film like this and reduce it to the ranks of schmaltz - or 'rom-com'.
It's also heartening to see that Colin Firth has avoided the pitfall of pastiche that some hugely successful actors descend into - becoming caricatures of themselves in their earlier roles. Firth's characterisation here is rich and multi-dimensional, sympathetic, while being no pushover. He's middle-aged, slightly broad in the beam, untidy - he's real.
It's refreshing to be able to look at a cast and say 'yes, they really all can act.'
This is a good film on all sorts of levels: if you want a 'chickflick' or a 'rom-com' - or somesuch other genre aberration, don't bother. It won't please you. This film is not afraid to stand up on its own, and it's all the more rewarding and enjoyable because of it.