Michael Knight’s review:
Mention Return to Me to someone and the chances are that they have never seen or even heard of this gem of a movie.
When I saw the trailer for this film, I said out loud to no one in particular "this film is going to suck." I also said that about THE MATRIX and look at what happened there. In this case I was blinded by my complete and utter apathy towards David Duchovney. Let me put it to you a different way: I don't like him as a person or as an actor. But, Return To Me is delightful and has it's heart in the right place (pun intended). Bonnie Hunt has directed a beautiful story and she has told it with class and grace. This is one of the most romantic films I have seen and even though it may seem to be a bit sad and maudlin in its premise, give it a chance and you will be hooked.
It has to be said (and this pains me to do so) that the reason this film works so well is because of the story and the cast. Duchovney and Driver are so wonderful and believable here that I honestly wanted to cry along with them. Unlike most of the movies of this type, you actually get to see the husband and wife (Joely Richardson) spending time together, and you can see how much they are in love. There is one particularly powerful scene when Duchovney comes home after his wife has died and he slumps down on the floor of his house. As it always does, the family dog looks to the door to wait for his wife to come walking in. She doesn't and with his shirt and collar still stained with blood, Rob (Duchovney ) tells him that she is not coming home, ever. He then calls the dog over to him and they seem to share a cry together. The dog lets out a small moan and then Rob cries. And this is one of the most realistic moments of pain I have ever seen in any character in any movie. You can feel his pain and at that moment I forgot I was watching an actor that I generally don't like, and I felt that I was watching someone that I knew moarn the loss of his beloved. This is powerful stuff.
Another strength of the film is the supporting cast. Bonnie Hunt has combined an ethnic melting pot of Irish and Italian characters that share a common bond. They share a pub called O'Reilley's Italian Pub. That is a delicious name all by itself. And heading the diametric scale of clashing cultures is Carol O'Connor (in his last ever role) and Robert Loggia. These are two proud old men that love their homeland but love their granddaughter and niece (I think it is) respectively. And that is the character played by Minnie Driver. This scenario is ripe for comedy and Hunt doesn't miss anything here.
Bonnie Hunt and James Belushi also share some really funny moments together as the middle aged married couple and Belushi gets top points as he accepts humility gracefully and shows off his ample keg of a stomach for laughs. With his family consisting of three or four kids, there is very little time for him and the wife to have quality time. And again Hunt handles this with perfect elegance.
This is a wonderful story of finding true love, knowing how lucky you are to have true love and the power of friendship and family. Return To Me is a wonderful romance and even though I still don't have a great admiration for David Duchovney, I have to admit that he was perfect in this role and I could not picture anyone else playing his character. He was sensitive and believable and the movie was good because of him, not just because of him, but he sure added to the flavour.
If you are a sucker for a good romance and you want a good cry, then this is the movie for you.