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Then She Found Me
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this indie dramedy deals with heavy, mature themes, including infidelity, divorce, and infertility. The romantic entanglements are messy, as is the newly discovered mother-daughter relationship between Bernice and April. The sex scenes aren't explicit, but they're quite frank (and there's lots of panting and other noises). The film also candidly captures the ambivalence some people feel about adoption, and the discussions can border on uncomfortably painful. Expect some swearing, social drinking, and some heated verbal exchanges as well.
What's the story?
Schoolteacher April Epner (Helen Hunt) married her childhood pal, Ben (Matthew Broderick). Too bad he hasn't grown up, which may explain why he books it out of their marriage when the going gets rough (she badly wants a baby, and nothing's working). Soon after, April's adoptive mother dies. Just when it seems like no other tornadoes can hit her already turbulent existence, her long-lost birth mother appears. Bernice Graves (a muted Bette Midler) is a brassy, bossy, but well-meaning TV talk show host who helps April navigate her newly messy life. And what a mess it is: She still cares for her husband, she still wants a baby, and she's falling in love with Frank (Colin Firth), the father of one of her students.
Is it any good?
While it's nice to see a film that isn't afraid to be complicated, THEN SHE FOUND ME's script could use tightening. There are so many turns that the storyline loses its focus. It's shifty like April's ex and shapeless like her dresses. (Must she look so dowdy?) April's relationship with Bernice, which could have been mined more deeply for drama, unnecessarily loses its interest along the way. Considering that the movie's title refers directly to that link and discovery, the film squanders that potential.
That Hunt is talented isn't up for argument. She co-wrote the script and directed the film (adapted from the novel by Elinor Lipman), and stars in it, too. Here, she displays the type of subtle, finely tuned performance for which she's garnered awards in the past. She's great with transitions between drama and comedy, and she knows how to make the most of a moment while exuding the gravity her character deserves. Still, April feels too deeply melancholic; it's hard to believe that someone in such a heavy funk could love so readily and so soon. Then again, the object of her affection is Firth, who plays Frank charmingly and with admirable naked emotion. He's as good as he gets.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what messages the movie sends about adoption. Why is April at first so against it when she herself is adopted? What changes her mind? Is her relationship with Bernice believable? In general, do you think movies present realistic relationships between adult parents and children? Why or why not? Teens: What do you imagine your relationship with your parents will be like as you get older?