The directorial debut of respected actress Bonnie Hunt, Return to Me is a polished and skillfully realized romantic comedy that literally reverses the tearjerker formula by placing its tragic death at the film's beginning rather than the conclusion. Instead of a tale of doomed romance, Hunt has created (with her writing partner Don Lake, who also appears in a humorous cameo), a story that's not exactly the high-concept Hollywood standard: the journey of two people slowly and intelligently putting their lives back together. The director, who cast the film with many of her personal friends from the acting community, pulls fully engaged, grounded performances from her film's protagonists, David Duchovny and Minnie Driver. Driver has earned her chops in this genre with hits such as Circle of Friends (1995) and Grosse Pointe Blank (1997), but Duchovny, noted for his trademark icy reserve, is a revelation as a man with a deeply painful emotional life. An underrated gem that deserved more attention from critics and audiences, Return to Me marks the freshman project of a filmmaker with a promising future behind the camera.