She seemed to have vanished from movies not long after, though the 2004 Oscar Wilde adaptation A Good Woman suggested that Hunt may be most appealing when duplicitous, dangerous, and not at all the girl next door. The movie itself had problems and did no business, but Hunt was suddenly in full bloom, playing a seductress-opportunist who actually managed to out-sex Scarlett Johansson. Hunt vanished again and is only now returning in a starring role, but this time on her own terms. Then She Found Me, adapted from Elinor Lipman’s novel by Hunt with Alice Arlen and Victor Levin, marks Hunt’s directorial debut, and while not a radical departure from her past work, her foray into this increasingly rare genre—the comedy for adults—does finally place her firmly in the spotlight and possesses an unusual maturity and depth.
Hunt plays April, a kindergarten teacher pushing 40, raised an orphan, and so painfully hungry to generate a child from her very own womb that malicious fate seems to bite her right in the ass as punishment. Her adoptive mother dies, her childish husband of less than a year (Matthew Broderick) ditches her, and the pathetic quickie break-up sex results in a very awkwardly timed pregnancy. To boot, her biological mother (Bette Midler) appears out of nowhere, a blowsy, affably obnoxious talk show host eager to suddenly be the mom she never was. There’s also a most precarious love interest (Colin Firth), a deeply neurotic single dad blessed with a wicked temper and lack of tact.
It’s all a bit much for one movie, though Hunt and her colleagues juggle reasonably well. There’s something admirable, if not especially inspired, about how drab it all is, and Hunt is anything but glamorized playing this very dowdy Jewess in shapeless skirts and sensible shoes. There are ill-chosen detours, especially when the characters begin discussing faith, and the odd eccentricity, such as casting Salman Rushdie as an OB-GYN. But Then She Found Me isn’t really meant to be all that tidy or crisp, working best when rigorously exploiting its rawness, exploring messy emotions, difficult choices, disappointments and frustrations, all of which are evoked most effectively in the scenes between Hunt and the equally talented Firth, which are often funny, plausibly crazy and touching.