By Steve Vivona
I have to confess the major reason I wanted to see "Return to Me" was because it featured Carroll O'Connor in his first feature film role in over 20 years. I had met and interviewed Mr. O'Connor about a month before I saw the film so naturally I had an instant affinity for anything he was involved with.
As for the film I had very low expectations and I can say now that I was pleasantly surprised! If you can get past the premise (which is a bit far fetched) "Return to Me" is a very touching look at how two lonely people find each other in the midst of great personal hardships.
David Duchovny is Bob Rueland, an architect with a bright future and a beautiful wife. One night that is all snatched from him when his wife is killed when she is hit by a car as they cross the street. Unbeknownst to Bob his wife's heart is donated to Grace Briggs (Minnie Driver) a very sick girl who is on the brink of death herself.
Months later Bob is cajoled by friends to go out on a blind date. He reluctantly agrees and they dine at the restaurant owned by Grace's grandfather Marty (O'Connor). Nothing is clicking with his date but sparks immediately fly between Grace and Bob. The unlikely pair begin a whirlwind romance that is threatened when Grace realizes her donor heart came from Bob's late wife.
"Return to Me" succeeds on the strength of a wonderful ensemble cast that includes O'Connor, Robert Loggia, Bonnie Hunt (who also directed), David Alan Grier and James Belushi. All the performers add their own particular flavor to this wonderful mix. Surprisingly Duchovny and Driver have great chemistry and their romance is entirely believable.
The film is just a sweet story of two lost souls who find each other in the midst of a great tragedy. In Bob's character we see a man who needs to get on with his life and who finds the means to go on in the unlikeliest of places. The fact that this woman has his wife's heart is really secondary as far as I'm concerned. It's the idea that life goes on despite seemingly insurmountable tragedy and we never know what awaits us as long as we're open to the possibility.
MGM has served up a nice little special edition with their DVD of "Return to Me." The widescreen transfer is terrific with strong colors and a sharp image that is free from grain and any artifacting. Also included is a thoughtful audio commentary from director Hunt and writer Don Lake. Making me even happier a deleted scene featuring Mr. O'Connor has also been included as well as the music video, "What if I Loved You?"