DVD Review: Return to Sender

Starring: Rosamund Pike, Shiloh Fernandez
Director: Fouad Mikati

return-to-sender 1In this deceptively quiet, slow-burning piece, Rosamund Pike plays Miranda, a hard-working nurse (and neurotic germophobe) whose life is thrown upside down when she is raped by a sleazy opportunist named William (Shiloh Fernandez). However, just when it looks like she won’t be able to cope with the fallout, she finds a strange therapeutic value in befriending her attacker while he serves out his sentence for the crime. But what are her motives for this apparent act of charity?

Director Fouad Mikati shoots this sly little story in a deft, glossy style, and to his credit he handles the rape scene responsibly, while the script by Patricia Beauchamp and Joe Gossett is good on the impact that the assault has on Miranda, both emotionally and in practical ways – she can’t sell her house as she had planned because the fact that it was the scene of a brutal crime has been disastrous for its kerb appeal, and the hand tremors she develops threaten to put the kibosh on her hopes of becoming a high-flying surgical nurse. The plot has a couple of glaring loopholes, but on the whole the film plays its cards admirably close to its chest, leaving you guessing as to exactly where it’s going.

Miranda is a tough lead to carry off because so much of what is going on with her is return-to-sender 2bubbling along beneath the surface, but Pike delivers a credibly brittle, edgy performance as a woman who suddenly finds herself laid low by a random act of fate and who has to fight back or give up once and for all. She’s helped by a solid supporting cast – Nick Nolte grumbling away as her bewildered father, Fernandez as the slimily charming and self-servingly repentant William, and Camryn Manheim as Nancy, the slobby but kind-hearted nurse who is the nearest thing Miranda has to be a best friend. Not the easiest of films to warm to perhaps, but an interesting character study and a worthy showcase for Pike’s icy talent. 6/10

7-min behind the scenes, with Pike talking about how she’s drawn to playing difficult, slightly unsympathetic characters. 4/10


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