Film / Return to Me

"Grace has Bob's dead wife's heart!"
Megan, helpfully summarizing the plot.

A 2000 romantic comedy starring David Duchovny and Minnie Driver. Bonnie Hunt directed the film, helped write the screenplay, and appears in a supporting role. Also in the cast are Carroll O'Connor, Robert Loggia, David Alan Grier, Joely Richardson, and James Belushi.

Bob Rueland (Duchovny), a Chicago architect, is married to Elizabeth (Richardson), a zoologist. After Elizabeth is killed in an auto accident, her heart is transplanted to artist Grace Biggs (Driver), who's near death from the congenital heart disease she's suffered since she was a teenager. Grace is grateful for the transplant and composes a letter to Elizabeth's grieving family thanking them, but can't bring herself to mail it. She's also reluctant to get into the dating scene, despite the urging of her friend Megan (Hunt), due to self-consciousness over the scar on her chest following the operation.

A year passes. Bob is grieving and lonely, prompting his friend Charlie (Grier) to set him up on a blind date. While the date itself does not go well, Bob finds himself attracted to the waitress at the restaurant. Who happens to be Grace, whom Bob has never met. And whose thank-you letter was finally sent and is sitting unopened at Bob's house. Hilarity, of the heartwarming variety, ensues.

This film contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Billy Needs an Organ: Grace, a twenty-something woman, needs a heart.
  • Black Best Friend: Charlie is Bob's best friend, and the only prominent black character.
  • Contrived Coincidence
  • Excuse Plot: Romantic Comedies have been built on less but the central conflict is, "my girlfriend has an organ from my late wife" is weird but not exactly life-denying.
  • Good Times Montage: A nice one set to Frank Sinatra's "At Long Last Love".
  • Orphaned Punchline: "I told you, I don't want no brown bananas!"
  • The Matchmaker: Boy howdy. Grace has an entire troop of them in her grandpa, her uncle, their friends, etc.
  • Shipper on Deck: Nearly everyone in this movie is rooting for Bob and Grace to get together.
  • The Promise: Elizabeth promises Bob that some day they'll go to Italy together
  • Survivor Guilt: Grace has a version of this, since she knows that she's only alive because someone else is dead.