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Return To Me Review

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Romantic comedy in which Duchovny unwittingly dates the recipient of his dead wife's heart.

★★★★★

Bonnie Hunt planned this film as a love letter to her home town of Chicago. As co-writer/ director and in the obligatory best friend role she clearly had her work cut out, but 'Return To Me' emerges as an accomplished debut, an old-fashioned comedy which treads a fine line between the sweet and sentimentally mawkish but stays on the right side every time. Given the subject matter, that's quite an achievement.

The windy city never looked so fine, from the sweeping skyscrapers to the townhouses that surround O'Reilly's restaurant, home to Grace. The location shoot roots the story firmly in the present, but this film could just as easily have been made 40 years ago (although they'd have had problems dealing with the heart transplant concept).

Grace and Bob are clearly twin souls, with values that hark back to the more traditional. They spend their "date time" hanging out with Grace's dad and his ageing poker playing friends or bowling with the same extended group. Bob loves animals - he owns a dog and helps the gorillas. Grace loves old people and is the only one able to "reach" the gorilla that was Elizabeth's favourite before she died. There's no sex romps, no shoot-outs, minimal swearing and even the car crash is off-screen.

The distributors decided to release this film in the supposed female friendly Euro 2000 period, the assumption being that all the men would be watching football, so the girls could head off to the cinema. In those terms this film delivers.

Duchovny and Driver are viewer friendly leads; the former proves he's capable of a great deal more when the special effects are no longer the star and Driver's naturalistic style continues to move her towards the Hollywood A-list. The chemistry doesn't exactly spark, but this is love based on friendship as much as body heat and in a gentle romance like this, fits the bill.

Gentle romance that delivers on its promise to be an entertaining chick-flick, with easy laughs making it a lot more fun that it should have been.

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