The she found me opens with a Jewish wedding of Helen Hunt and Matthew Broderick. This had a dual effect on me. On one hand, because neither of these fine actors “look” Jewish it was a bit incredulous. On the other hand when I learn of a new film with a Jewish motif I immediately start to think of whether it would fit the profile of the film I ran this summer at my synagogue and plan to continue next January. I was hoping that the Jewish theme would be kept up throughout the film, so I could justify showing it, if the film is good enough.
The result in this case is a hesitant yes. The film, I liked and can recommend it. And was Jew-ish enough, despite that it wasn’t exactly a necessary element of the film. But it came back often enough: besides the wedding there were two (dysfunctional) Shabbat evenings shown, and the motzi (blessing of the food) and prayer (the Shema) both provided on-screen opportunities for conflict.
At the point, when Helen Hunt got a sonogram, I had to stop the movie. I said to my wife that the doctor looks just like Salman Rushdie. I had to check on IMDB and sure enough it was him. This is the only movie where he showed up as an actor. Once the movie was over I did a bit more searching, because I was curious how he ended up here. I found the answer here
So, we cornered her [director, Helen Hunt] during dinner at Nobu 57 after the screening: Why Rushdie? “There is scene with a prayer, and I wanted to introduce the possibility that everyone was praying to someone different. I thought that character should be played by someone Indian, so we can’t necessarily assume who everybody is praying to.” Was M. Night Shyamalan not available? “That somehow led to Salman hearing about it and wanting to audition. He got the part, and suddenly this novelist was my obstetrician. He sought me out, and I thought he was wonderful.”
The praying session in question is when Helen Hunt says the Shema before starting treatment to become pregnant at a riper than ideal age. Bette Midler, playing her biological mother, is also in the room, albeit she plays a secular character. Colin Firth rounds up the cast as single, loving, but even more complex father.
This is the IMDB summary of the film: “A New York schoolteacher hits a midlife crisis when, in quick succession, her husband leaves, her adoptive mother dies and her biological mother, an eccentric talk show host, materializes and turns her life upside down as she begins a courtship with the father of one of her students.” I would like to add to the above, that babies, conception and adoptions are at the real center of the film for me.