For April, herself struggling to become a parent, the loss of one mother and the reappearance of another is a bitter dose of poetic injustice.
April ignores the advice to adopt from the mother who raised her because she thinks she would be closer to a biological child. So much for biology: When bio-mom barrels into her life, April hates her on sight.
Then She Found Me, an unassuming film based on the 1990 novel by Elinor Lipman, marks the directorial debut of Hunt, who substitutes low-key wariness for Lipman's more satirical edge.
The material is so charged that it threatens to electrocute any who would touch it. Yet from the moment that Bette Midler, as Bernice the bio-Mom, appears, she becomes the instrument of its emotional release, catharsis teetering on high heels.
Hunt is a sympathetic director of actors, particularly Midler, who delivers a fluent performance in this most episodic of films, and also Lynn Cohen as April's pragmatic mom.
Most movies suffer from a drama deficit. Not this one, which deals with April's multiple anxieties as adoptee, infertility patient and woman. For not only does April have mom trouble, she has man trouble. The mothers in her life are mirrored in an absentee husband (Matthew Broderick) and too-present suitor (Colin Firth).
Given its drama surplus, I wish that Hunt (who, with Alice Arlen and Victor Levin, adapted Lipman's book) had leavened the anxiety with some irony. As Hunt plays her, April is a shuttlecock swatted between the emotional needs of bio-mom and her own loyalty to an adoptive mom. Because of her generosity to the other performers, Hunt is stronger here as a filmmaker than as an actress.
Like life, some of the movie is excruciating. But, so what? By the closing scene, I felt privileged to be along for April's emergence from the deep waters of daughterhood and her realization that when love knocks, the heart opens wide.
Contact movie critic Carrie Rickey at 215-854-5402 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her blog, "Flickgrrl," at http://go.philly.com/flickgrrl/