Plot: Miranda (Rosamund Pike) is a skilled nurse who is ambitious and driven to become part of the surgical unit. The move would challenge her and put her under intense pressure, but she seems to think she would thrive in that environment. While she isn’t shaken by blood, savage injuries, or holding a life in her hands, she does have some peculiar traits and mannerisms. She is compelled to use the exact kind of pen, she creates painstakingly perfect cakes, and is meticulous about how she looks and how clean her house is. After being hounded for months, Miranda agrees to go on a blind date at her colleague’s insistence, only to be ambushed as she waits on his arrival and she is brutally raped in the encounter. As she tries to heal from the assault, she reaches out to her rapist in prison and forgives him, then tries to understand what drove him to want to hurt her. But can she find any answers in her encounters with this violent criminal and if so, what will it take for her feel healed?
Entertainment Value: I was drawn to Return to Sender because of Rosamund Pike’s presence, as I think she has a wonderful skill for unhinged roles and this movie seemed to be in that wheelhouse. As it turns out, she is indeed on the imbalanced side here, but it is in more subtle, elusive ways. The narrative centers on her need to reach out to the man who raped her, hoping for answers and some kind of healing, but this is no warm hearted, inspirational tale of personal growth. The relationship between victim and attacker takes some dark, often uncomfortable turns, but it all makes sense in a dark, twisted kind of way. I know some critics dislike the nontraditional path the movie takes, but Miranda’s need for answers is sound psychology, especially given her focused, driven persona. As this is a dark thriller, it is bound to have some twists and turns, ones that I think are passable, if a little predictable. For me, the movie is worth a look because of Pike, as her performance is good and she adds an unstable vibe to an otherwise mostly predictable experience. So if you’re a fan of thrillers or just love Pike in unhinged roles, Return to Sender makes a solid rental.
No nakedness. There’s a scene of masturbation and the brutal rape itself, but neither are shown in graphic fashion. The assault is an intense, brutal sequence, but no nudity is depicted and the focus is more on the mental and emotional torment involved. As for blood, the movie has a makeshift tracheotomy, a severed hand, and some other minor instances of bloodshed. No graphic, on screen violence unfolds and this is more of a psychological experience than visceral, at least in most scenes. The dialogue includes concerned father talk, creepy rapist delusions, and Pike’s ice cold, placid presence that makes even normal lines seem somehow unsettling. The tone is serious and the writing is fine, but not much wild stuff or quotable lines. But Pike has some shining moments and her performances ensures the lines are given justice. The dark narrative and effective creepiness from the rapist add some minor craziness, but Pike’s presence is what points the points on the board. I think she is such a natural for these kind of roles and while she is mostly restrained in this one, you can see the crazy bubble up and it is a fun watch.
Overall Insanity: 2/10