Return to Sender (2015)

Return to Sender (2015)
  • Time: 95 min
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Director: Fouad Mikati
  • Cast: Rosamund Pike, Shiloh Fernandez, Nick Nolte, Samantha Beaulieu, Tony Bentley, Lucas Boffin


A nurse living in small town goes on a blind date with a man who is not the person he says he is.

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  • “Do you expect me to cry, scream, say ‘Dear God, why me?’ That’s not me,” Miranda (Rosamund Pike) tells her rapist William (Shiloh Fernandez). No cowering victim is Miranda, an uppity and disagreeable nurse whose intelligence and practicality abandon her per the narrative dictates of this cheap and disappointing cautionary tale.

    Committing surely one of the biggest blunders by a character who is otherwise guided by common sense, Miranda lets in the obviously shifty William because she believes him to be the blind date arranged by one of her fellow nurses. Considering Miranda’s barely disguised tolerance of the fellow nurses she believes to be beneath her, it seems highly implausible that she would agree to go on a blind date much less trust the judgment of someone not on her level. Miranda cannot even bear the thought of touching any other pen but the ones she specially orders, so why wouldn’t she at least screen her date or find out more about him online? Or, at the very least, ask to see a picture of her date?

    Screenwriters Patricia Beauchamp and Joe Gossett are already on wobbly ground at this point, but they throw reason to the wind and proceed with more lapses in character logic. One look at William would have set off alarm bells in any woman, and yet the self-controlled Miranda ushers him in without a second thought. Come to think of it, why would someone like Miranda even have a person she’s never set eyes on meet her at home? Why not at a restaurant? Watching Return to Sender is an aggravating experience, chiefly because Miranda’s brutal rape is treated in such a way that it is almost as if the screenwriters had begun with the final 15 minutes of the film and worked their way backwards. It renders her violation exploitative.

    Beauchamp and Gossett somewhat redeem themselves by retaining Miranda’s flintiness post-rape. Pike’s portrayal goes a long way in maintaining Miranda’s cutting determination to not be treated as a victim. She could talk her feelings to death in therapy, she could cry her eyes out, she could rage against William. Yet hating him only hurts her. It may be odd to strike up a correspondence with William once he’s behind bars – even odder when he’s released and starts coming around her place to help her fix it up – but if this is how she chooses to process her pain, she argues to her concerned dad (Nick Nolte), then she should be supported rather than questioned.

    Unfortunately, the screenwriters decide that this potentially provocative study of forgiveness is insufficient to keep their interest, and so Return to Sender is steered into thriller territory. Director Fouad Mikati can barely keep up with the changes in tone and genre. Return to Sender is a terrible mess of a film that squanders a terrific central performance by Pike.

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