Rosamund Pike brought an unsettling performance to life with Gone Girl, so anytime it looks as though she might be heading in a similar direction you can’t help but get interested. Her latest film, Return to Sender has her starring alongside Shiloh Fernandez, Nick Nolte, Camryn Manheim, and Rumer Willis, but does it have the punch or impact to make this film work or will it be a letter that just can’t be delivered?
Return to Sender follows a dedicated nurse who agrees to go on a blind date, but when the wrong man comes to the door her perfect world is shattered by a brutal assault. Despite him being locked away she can’t put her life back together. Desperate to move on she begins contacting her attacker and builds a relationship with him, but is it for closer or something more sinister? Initially this is a pretty straight forward film with a clear direction to where it is going, but it quickly veers into strange directions. They take their time to develop Pike’s character before allowing it all to be torn down. There is very little mystery before it happens as it is pretty predictable. Afterwards they go through all the clichéd moments used in these sorts of films, before finally settling in to a strange new direction. They really attempt to lead you down a path leaving you to wonder what her motives really are, but it is not all that hard to figure out what her plan is. There is an aspect involving her and her father’s dog that is a bit unsettling and never really dealt with other than a simple purpose they are using it for and it makes her feel less like someone you want to root for and more of a monster and it doesn’t appear that is what they really wanted. Pike’s performance isn’t as menacing as you might think, but she conveys just the right range of emotions to make it work better than it might have otherwise.
In the end it heads down a path that most viewers will likely be hoping for, but it seems to be all build up and then a rushed payoff. The climax is there, but it feels like they spent so much time setting it up that they ran out of time to really follow through and really give her and the viewer the satisfaction they all wanted. This is a decent thriller that will no doubt find its audience, but could have structured itself a little better to build up more suspense instead of falling into the by the numbers filmmaking. Decide for yourself when Return to Sender hits Blu-ray and DVD on September 29th.