Rosamund Pike delivers a quietly meticulous performance in this strange thriller

Return To Sender is a hard movie to categorize given its unconventional approach to touchy subject matter. Director Fouad Mikati has crafted an unusual thriller, though that genre label is a little misleading on the surface. The primary reason to watch this movie is Rosamund Pike’s starring performance, fresh off her Academy Award nomination for Gone Girl. Return To Sender avoids all the typical tropes in constructing a story of retribution and revenge around a traumatized woman that forms a friendly relationship… with her rapist. Nick Nolte is along for the ride as a supporting character in this deliberate feature.

I imagine some readers have already checked out on Return To Sender after reading that synopsis. Image Entertainment’s marketing department isn’t doing this movie any favors by advertising it as a revenge thriller because it’s not really a slick story with twists and turns. The movie approaches the subject from a different, more sophisticated angle. It is far more about a high-strung woman exorcising her own demons after a highly personal trauma.

Miranda (Rosamund Pike) is a professional woman with a career as a nurse. Her hobbies include making gorgeous-looking cakes and an intense drive to become a surgical nurse. She has everything but a man in her life to make it complete. Everything is going great when friends pressure her into going on a blind date which changes her life forever. An unknown man shows up for the date that rapes her in her own home. Miranda’s entire life is turned upside down as she deals with the emotional trauma and fallout.

William (Shiloh Fernandez) is Miranda’s rapist. He is soon caught and sent to prison for his terrible crime. William is not a nice man but gets by with his looks and charm. Looking for closure after the attack wrecks her professional life, she contacts William and eventually visits him in prison. This forms the basis for a strange relationship that develops between the menacing criminal and his victim. Miranda uses their talks as a form of therapy for her own issues. William creepily begins to show romantic feelings for Miranda.

Return to Sender takes a while to form where it is going but there is pay-off in its final act.

I have a feeling Return To Sender will polarize viewers with its coy handling for nearly an hour of where things are headed. The tone is unconventional for what turns into a dark thriller, almost too light at times. Pike plays the traumatized woman with a preciseness that fits Miranda’s meticulous personality. Return to Sender takes a while to form where it is going but there is pay-off in its final act. The acting is uniformly superb by the cast. Shiloh Fernandez almost matches the quiet intensity of Pike’s performance. Nick Nolte plays Miranda’s elderly father who becomes protective of his daughter. Camryn Manheim (Person of Interest) plays a small role as one of Miranda’s fellow nurses.

Some movies are better discovered flipping through channels when you really can’t see the marketing attached to it. Return To Sender is one of those movies that may surprise you if your expectations are low and you stumble across it without knowing much about it. This is a cautious recommendation since some viewers will have problems with how the story develops.

Movie ★★★★☆

Confronting @ 41:57

Image Entertainment provides a perfect Blu-ray presentation for Return To Sender. This is an immaculate transfer from the digital intermediate in pristine quality. The 95-minute main feature is encoded in AVC on a BD-25.

The ordinary compression rates produce artifact-free video since they are never pushed by the picture-perfect cinematography. Return To Sender is presented in a 1.78:1 widescreen presentation that may or may not reflect its intended aspect ratio. Some sources say the film was possibly intended for a 2.35:1 composition.

This is truly stunning video at times with razor-sharp definition and a colorful palette. The unfiltered transfer has amazing levels of detail in the close-ups. Longer shots produce strong depth and dimensionality. The crisp black levels never waver with their inky consistency.

Return To Sender has far better picture quality than most dramatic thrillers on Blu-ray. This is top-shelf video quality presented in a perfect Blu-ray.

Video ★★★★★

The audio quality doesn’t match up with the stellar video. This 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack has issues with its mix, producing nearly unintelligible dialogue at times. The worst scenes by far with this problem arise when Miranda meets William in prison and speaks to him through glass. I had to turn the subtitles on since much of William’s dialogue is mumbled in those scenes.

Turning the volume up didn’t help matters. His vocal recording is simply placed too low in the mix for audibility. The rest of the soundtrack has a fine underscore and reasonably solid audio. This is a quiet drama much of the time and only a few moments give the mix a chance to work its surround magic.

The optional English SDH subtitles display in a white font.

Audio★★☆☆☆

Currently this Blu-ray is exclusive to Best Buy until December 1, 2015. It comes with a regular slipcover. The only bonuses on this disc are two trailers that precede the main menu.

Devil’s Knot Trailer (02:29 in HD)

Blood Trailer (02:17 in HD)

Extras ★

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.