Review: RETURN TO SENDER

rtsA nurse, brutally raped by a man who is quickly caught and convicted, strikes a pen-pal relationship with the man, much to the chagrin of her friends and father serves up the first half of Fouad Mikati’s RETURN TO SENDER. It’s a film that is filled with both great actors and unfortunately, quite a few attempts to create some form of confusion within its audience, ultimately failing in delivering anything we all can’t see coming a mile away.

GONE GIRL‘s Rosamund Pike does her best as Miranda, the nurse that gets victimized by William (DEADGIRL and EVIL DEAD‘s Shiloh Fernandez) an individual whom she thinks is her blind date, but is instead a stranger preying on her. She’s a very committed nurse, a good friend to those close to her, and close to her father (played by Nick Nolte). Before her attack, we see a scene in which Miranda is bitten by her father’s dog, showing us a side of Miranda that seems almost vengeful. Based on just the short reaction to the bite, we know that there’s something a bit vicious in Miranda, and when William rapes her and leaves her for dead, it doesn’t take long for us as an audience to realize that this isn’t just a film about a woman coping with an attack but something more in line with MISERY or HARD CANDY.

With William behind bars, Miranda begins losing her grip on things she typically has a handle on, whether it’s surgery or just everyday tasks. She copes with that by going out of her way to help her father’s dog that previously had bitten her in the scene mentioned above. At the same time, Miranda begins writing William letters, but gets them sent back to her with “return to sender” stamped on each one. She’s an adamant character thought, so the parallels of her being persistent with taking care of her father’s dog (who suddenly dies from a mysterious happening), and eventually striking up a pen-pal then prison visiting relationship with William are just too similar for any viewer to not see where the film is going…straight to revenge.

When William gets out of prison, Miranda invites him to help her do some add-on construction to her house, and quicker than you can yell MISERY, she turns the tables on him, and the film just falls pretty flat from there, which is quite unfortunate, because the film has a very impressive cast, but never really does anything we haven’t either seen before or can predict a mile away. It stays comfortably within a cliche-filled setup, never daring to try anything different and wasting the talented Pike, Fernandez and Nolte.

Typically in films like RETURN TO SENDER, you have to sympathize for the characters, but with the exception to the awful situation of the rape of Miranda, there isn’t much to the character that as an audience you feel for. She’s very one-dimensional, and it’s a shame, because as we’ve all seen in GONE GIRL, Pike can certainly act, and this film just does a very mediocre job, under-utilizing, a decent plot, great actors and an opportunity to do something different.

 

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