Bob Rueland (David Duchovny), an architectural engineer, is happily married to Elizabeth (Joely Richardson), a zoologist who dreams of building a large gorilla habitat at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo for her beloved Sydney. Then, after an evening at a successful fundraising event, she is tragically killed in an automobile accident.
In another part of the city, Grace Briggs (Minnie Driver) is at death's door awaiting a heart transplant. She receives Elizabeth's heart. Her new chance at life is celebrated by her grandfather (Carroll O'Connor), her uncle (Robert Loggia), and her best friend Megan (Bonnie Hunt). Grace works as a waitress at O'Reilly's Irish and Italian Restaurant and loves the garden out back that she has made into a little Eden. Despite her deep gratitude for what has happened to her, she is embarrassed by the scar from the operation and very nervous about anyone seeing it.
A year later Bob has moved ahead with the gorilla habitat project but has put his own life on hold due to his intense grief. When his best friend, Dr. Charlie Johnson (David Alan Grier), finally gets him to agree to go on a blind date, they wind up at O'Reilly's Restaurant. There is an immediate connection between Bob and Grace that neither can explain. It's almost as if they already knew each other.
Return to Me is actress Bonnie Hunt's feature directorial debut and it's a joy to behold on every level. With a title song rendered by Dean Martin, the film has the same exuberance and buoyancy as Moonstruck, another romantic comedy rich with an extended family of senior citizens. Hunt draws out all the juiciness of the characters in moments familiar to us all a card game, an evening of bowling, getting the kids to bed, and trying to be patient with a dog in mourning.
Kabir Helminski, a Sufi teacher and writer, has observed: "Hearts need education and refinement just as the body needs exercise and moderation." Here is our prescription: See this wonderful film and let it teach you about the warmth, the richness, and the renewal of life.