on 12 July 2014
THEN SHE FOUND ME  [Blu-ray] [US Import] A Fine Unpredictable Comedy! Smart, Engaging and Funny! Award-Calibre Acting! Extremely Funny!
This touching, warmly amusing story directed by Helen Hunt, follows schoolteacher April Epner [Helen Hunt] on her very unlikely path toward personal fulfilment. Following here separation from her husband Ben Green [Mathew Broderick] and the death of her adoptive mother, April Epner is contacted by her apparent birth mother Bernice Graves [Bette Midler], a colourful local talk show host who's not exactly the ideal mum. As she tries to become her mother to April that she never was able to be, April Epner finds solace in the arms of the father of one of her students Frank [Colin Firth]. With every aspect of her world turned upside down, April Epner must learn how to cope with an age-old truth; life can change in a heartbeat.
FILM FACT: Helen Hunt was presented with the Audience Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival and the Rogue Award at the Ashland Independent Film Festival.
Cast: Helen Hunt, Bette Midler, Colin Firth, Matthew Broderick, Ben Shenkman, Lynn Cohen, John Benjamin Hickey, Salman Rushdie, Daisy Tahan, Tommy Nelson, Stephanie Yankwitt, Lillias White, David Callegati, Kenneth Stern, Tim Robbins, Edie Falco, Flo Ankah (uncredited), Adrianna Bremont (uncredited), Gustavo Cunha (uncredited) and Brother Eden Douglas (uncredited)
Director: Helen Hunt
Producers: Christine Vachon, Connie Tavel, Helen Hunt, Katie Roumel and Pamela Koffler
Screenplay: Alice Arlen, Helen Hunt and Victor Levin
Composer: David Mansfield
Cinematography: Peter Donahue
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English: 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish
Running Time: 100 minutes
Region: Region A/1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Image Entertainment
Andrew's Blu-ray Review: Cinema is littered with failed film made by big stars turned first-time directors. Eddie Murphy's 'Harlem Nights,' Ethan Hawke's 'The Hottest State,' Alan Cumming and Jennifer Jason Leigh's 'The Anniversary Party' and Madonna's recent 'Filth & Wisdom' are just a few examples of arguably terrible films that are clear reminders that sometimes, actors should stick to their day jobs. So it's a very nice surprise when, every once in a while, a film made by a thespian comes along that actually isn't entirely dreadful. Helen Hunt's 'Then She Found Me' is just such a film, one that's certainly flawed but made with such obvious passion that you want to cheer Hunt on just for getting more right than wrong.
Based on the book by Elinor Lipman, Helen Hunt not only stars and directs, but also co-wrote the screenplay with Alice Arlen and Victor Levin. She retains the basic structure of Elinor Lipman's novel if streamlining many of its subplots and characters. The premise veers into Woody Allen territory, a slice of Jewish urban angst that sees Hunt as New York schoolteacher April Epner, a recent divorcee whose ex-husband John Benjamin [Matthew Broderick] left her because of her desire to have children, which is only compounded after her adoptive mother unexpectedly dies. Attempting to re-start her life, April finds herself in a myriad of dramedy complications, including the return of her intrusive biological mother [Bette Midler], her comically morose brother [Ben Shenkman] and a potential new boyfriend [Colin Firth] who is the father of one of her students.
The story of 'Then She Found Me' is nothing new. It's Female Empowerment, and had the tone been comedic. We can immediately anticipate all of the staple scenes to come, including April Epner's first slapstick encounter with Ms. Bette Midler, her meeting with the cute Colin Firth, and the eventual return of Benjamin, just at the moment when April will need to make her crucial romantic decision of whether to pursue her new suitor. Though Helen Hunt's script and direction are blatant in bringing Victor Lipman's spiritual and thematic concerns to the fore, which gives 'Then She Found Me' an intellectual bent rare for a romantic comedy, it remains a bit too precious to truly surmount the limitations of its genre.
Indeed, April Epner herself can be insufferable. Her predicament is certainly relatable, but her lack of humour and warmth (which is not helped by Hunt, who can come off as a cold actress) is not. It's intriguing that, as she elaborates on the included audio commentary, Hunt laboured for so many years to bring this story to the screen. April's realisations are ultimately not all that revelatory, and her frequent wallowing in self-pity often makes her seem a passive bystander in her own life rather than an active participant. It's often frustrating to watch, and the film's denouement just isn't emotionally transformative enough to truly make the journey worth it.
What Helen Hunt does succeed in bringing to 'Then She Found Me' is insight and earnestness, sort of like a distaff Edward Burns film but far less pretentious and grating. Helen Hunt is refreshing in her lack of visual ticks and self-conscious camera moves, and instead aims for the immediacy of a stage play. Her style is workmanlike and unpretentious (the Woody Allen influence is clear), which allows the fine cast to shine. Though I found Ms. Bette Midler slightly annoying in this, but still gives a good performance, despite this slight problem of being slightly over the top, whereas Colin Firth brings a real charm to a potentially awkward character, while the underrated Ben Shenkman provides plenty of droll laughs. Ironically, Helen Hunt's own performance suffers even more by comparison, as Helen Hunt sometimes feels overwhelmed by the other characters in the film, they steal the show.
'Then She Found Me' is ultimately a small movie in every sense of the word, but not quite a real sleeper. Its lead character is just too oft-putting, and the story's themes too off-the-rack. Yet at the same time, Hunt is so committed to her story and her filmmaking that 'Then She Found Me' is a film that you can't help but root for. It's refreshing to find a film these days whose maker truly seemed determined to make.
Blu-ray Video Quality – 'Then She Found Me' is hardly the type of material that screams high-definition, but this 1080p encode image is very nice and pleasant, delivering a good-looking picture but nothing more. The film has a realistic, non-stylised appearance. Colours are well-saturated and natural, if on the bland side. The transfer handles the palette well, however, with a clean look and accurate flesh tones. Detail is merely average, with a softness to the image which flattens out depth. The source is in good shape, however, with nice blacks and smooth contrast. Shadow delineation is average as well, with darker scenes offering little real fine texture. There are no major compression artefacts, and noise and edge enhancement are not problematic.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – I didn't expect much from the audio on 'Then She Found Me,' but this is quite a strong English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Surround soundtrack. It serves the material very well, and even has a few moments of inspired subtlety. I liked how well-done discrete effects and atmosphere are, which gives this mix a surprisingly strong rear presence. The back channels are usually alive with minor effects or score bleed, and sometimes more pronounced moments. The quality of the recording is likewise impressive, with a wide dynamic range and low bass that is prominent but non-intrusive. Dialogue is also front-and-centre, as it should be, with spoken words always intelligible and never overwhelmed by the rest of the mix. Sure, 'Then She Found Me' is not a demo disc, but it's hard to imagine the material could have been served more properly.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Audio Commentary: Commentary with Helen Hunt: Helen Hunt flies solo on this track, and it is one of the best I've heard in ages. This first-time director explains that she came into her first commentary completely prepared, aiming the track at fellow neophyte filmmakers. Her extensive experience as an actress who has worked with some of the greats is also well in evidence, and she comes off as intelligent and insightful about every aspect of her film and craft. She also provides a welcome thesis on the film's main themes, as well as continual detail on how she structured each scene. Thorough, witty, and passionate, Hunt shows us how a commentary is done right.
Special Feature: Interviews [1080p] [1.78:1] [28:00] Nearly a half-hour of interviews is included, with Helen Hunt and stars Colin Firth, Bette Midler, and Matthew Broderick. An off-screen interviewer guides the discussion, and if these chats are static in presentation, the content is very strong. (Only Helen Hunt's nearly 10-minute talk is a bit redundant after the commentary).
Theatrical Trailer  [1080p] [1.78:1] [2:30] The film's original trailer is provided in full HD video.
Finally, 'Then She Found Me' is a small but very engaging film, and a notable directorial debut for star Helen Hunt. This Blu-ray gives it a fine presentation, with good video and nice audio sound and a few worthwhile supplements. Still, 'Then She Found Me' isn't really material that calls out for a high-definition presentation, the Blu-ray release is undoubtedly the best this film will look for quite some time. Devoted fans of the film's actors may be curious to check this title out, but otherwise, `Then She Found Me' will probably float under the radar for most people, but if you are in the mood for something different on Blu-ray, then this is definitely worth a look and it is a wonderful winner all the way, as I never got to see this when it was released in the cinema, but wow what a joy to get this Blu-ray as all the actors give a truly outstanding performance and should of got some kind of gong for their efforts. But one word of warning, get your Kleenex tissues out, as this is a 10 hanky emotional roller coaster emotional ride and I am so proud to add this to my ever increasing Ms. Bette Midler Blu-ray Collection, as I cannot praise this film enough. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller - Your Ultimate No,1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom