Return to Sender
In 1962, Elvis Presley released a jolly song called Return to Sender. Faced now with a film with the same name, one could be forgiven for thinking that the film might itself be a jolly rom-com, rather than a thriller. It even has a best friend character, played by Camryn Manheim, who’s clearly been told to pretend she’s Melissa McCarthy. But, unfortunately, this is post-Gone Girl Rosamund Pike, hamming it up as a cold and cartoonish psychopath.
Pike plays a nurse who needs a man. Encouraged to go on a blind date by her worried colleagues, she accepts. But on the day, she invites the wrong man (Shiloh Fernandez) into her house. She is viciously attacked and the rest of the film charts her increasingly unorthodox methods of living with the trauma.
With the best will in the world, Return to Sender is an old-fashioned, straight-to-DVD film. The script bumps languidly from false note to false note, with dialogue that is either tin-eared, stupid or clumsy, if not all three at once. Even the title is entirely irrelevant to the subject of the film. The script is not helped by Fouad Mikati’s disinterested direction, all master shots and shot reverse shots, apart from the much-too-choreographed rape scene.
The performances are not good either, though it’s difficult to imagine anyone making this script work. Pike is unconvincing; Fernandez alternates between sad innocence and psycho leers, unsure of what he’s supposed to be doing. The supporting characters are invisible, Nick Nolte doesn’t realise he’s in a film and the extras drift awkwardly out of shot after saying their lines. Two extras in particular are worth looking out for – if one is watching for some degree of entertainment – one an impatient customer in a queue at the dry cleaners, and the other delivering flowers at the hospital.
It’s difficult to think of a recent film this flippant about rape – it had been assumed that filmmakers had grown up a little since the eighties. The film is bland enough that most audiences won’t be offended, although they might be angry at the blatant inattention and disinterest from all concerned.
Return to Sender is released nationwide on 22ndMay 2015.
Watch the trailer for Return to Sender here: