An attractive but lonely nurse accepts a blind date setup by a co-worker and arranges for them to meet at her home. A stranger arrives on her porch before the arranged time and she mistakes him for her blind date. The stranger rapes her and leaves her seriously traumatized. Her life falls apart and she enters depression. She learns much later he is in a prison an hour away and begins visiting him, first to confront him and her fears. Then she starts to flirt and her spirits improve dramatically in the rest of her life.
User Reviews: Return to Sender did have some potential, a subject that is hard-hitting and easy to relate to and Rosamund Pike and Nick Nolte are watchable in a lot of their work. Return to Sender has some decent assets, but overall is pretty messy and like a missed opportunity.
Pike is nowhere near as good as her deservedly Oscar-nominated performance in Gone Girl (a far superior film, no matter how polarising it is, and Amy is much more interestingly written than Miranda), but she still plays the role with charisma and an appropriate iciness. Shiloh Fernandez has his unsure moments but mostly suitably sleazy, but the film’s best performance comes from Nick Nolte, whose sympathetic performance gives a glimmer of emotional backbone and his character is the one character and asset that is halfway credible. Return to Sender is reasonably well-filmed too and fits the atmosphere well with some nice shots.
The rest of the cast reads of acting like wooden marionettes, and none of the characters are fleshed out are often underwritten. Apart from some of the camera work, the production values are generally too TV-film quality and the direction is lazy and confused, showing a lot of inexperience in the genre, a lack of suspense and a lack of ability to make the narrative cohesive. The script is illogical, predictable and completely lacking in realism, the way it flows and is delivered also never feels natural. The story is all over the place and doesn’t know what it wants to be, it does agreed feel like three different films and it does little with the second and third acts, the first act actually does have a little tension and some genuine sympathy for Miranda.
However, the character study second act has some far too pedestrian and lazy pacing, far too wooden and underdeveloped characterisation (with the exception of Nolte) and emotional impact is minimal (only provided by Nolte). And the third revenge act is sorely devoid of tension or suspense, increasing predictability to the extent that you’re exclaiming ‘we knew it!’ and suffers from Miranda’s actions not being believable for a second. The ending is very rushed and even the open feel felt abrupt and under-explained, it is also rather brutal and any sympathy felt for Miranda in the first act is completely diminished here.
Overall, messy (with the biggest offender being the story) and a missed opportunity, with its moments (the performances of Pike, Nolte and Fernandez, some nice shots and a decent first act). 4/10 Bethany Cox