Return To Zero Was A Nice Change Of Pace For Lifetime

Lifetime movie Return to Zero

Last night Lifetime aired Return to Zero, a movie unlike anything I’ve ever watched on the network before, and I found it really refreshing. It would have been more fun to watch, and definitely more fun to write about, had it been a campfest full of twists and turns, but I have to give the network credit for showing something different.

The film is based on writer-director-producer Sean Hanish’s own experience, as it tells the story of Maggie and Aaron (Minnie Driver and Paul Adelstein) in the aftermath of a stillbirth. Maggie falls into depression, their relationship and their relationship crumbles, and eventually they’re faced with another pregnancy and the uncertainty that comes with it. Cheery subject matter, I know. But if you can believe it, the movie avoids corniness, and there was minimal eye-rolling on my part, which you can imagine is one of the highest compliments for me to pay a movie.

I liked that this film approached a specific issue from a relatively simple, straightforward angle. It didn’t feel the need to insert over-the-top cinematography or last-minute twists to get its message across. Sure, there were some TV-movie-like plots, like Aaron’s cheating and the fact that Maggie’s mother ends up confessing she had a miscarriage before Maggie was born and can relate to her. But they were much less heavy-handed than I’m used to from Lifetime movies. This was a much quieter approach to storytelling. Just two characters dealing with tragedy and all the complex experiences and emotions that come with it.

Minnie Driver’s performance definitely helped, and fortunately the script lived up to the star power. It felt honest and truthful to how real people talk about their problems, without relying heavily on cliche or metaphor. She made me really feel for her character, and unlike with other TV movies about serious issues, I didn’t find myself wondering the whole time, “Is this really how it is for people who have this experience? Or is this a total exaggeration?” It was believable and real, and I expect that’s majorly due to the fact that the filmmaker experienced it firsthand.

My biggest issue with the movie was the length. It was an indie acquisition for the network, so it most likely wasn’t designed to fit perfectly into a 2-hour timeslot with commercials. That means it ended up running an extra half-hour. It’s interesting, because it seemed to go much faster than a lot of shorter Lifetime movies I’ve watched, yet I still felt like it should have been condensed. Or just cut off at the two-hour mark.

In fact, I didn’t realize the movie was running an extra half-hour until the clock struck 10 PM and I noticed it wasn’t over. However, before I realized the extended runtime I thought it was a really interesting and refreshing place for a Lifetime movie to stop, because it was during the scene in which Maggie tells Aaron that she’s pregnant again. Cutting the movie off there would have made it open-ended, something you never see in these movies. I love open-ended stories, so I was giddy at the idea that Lifetime was using one.

However, given the nature of the movie and the messages it was trying to convey of hope and optimism and moving on from tragedy, it makes sense that the second pregnancy and ultimate birth was depicted. It could have been shorter and still accommodated that storyline, but it was such a nice chance of pace all around that I can’t really complain. You get a break this time, Lifetime, but I can see Petals on the Wind on the horizon, and I’m coming for you.

(Image: Lifetime)

You can reach this post's author, Jill O’Rourke, on twitter.
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    • Midwest FilmLover

      I agree completely with your accurate review EXCEPT regarding the length of the film; and their decision to show a second pregnancy event. Without that, it would have felt more like a typical movie-of-the-week. I felt the casting and performances were amazing. Easy material to go over-the-top with, like you say, but these were very gifted actors, especially Driver and Connie Nielsen, the OB-GYN. I’m hoping Lifetime will be replaying this important film again, since I usually don’t watch the channel and just happened to stop on the film because I love Minnie Driver; the film was already about 45 minutes in, but it was easy to jump in and figure out what was happening.

    • OdetteBernardo

      what does it change for the Return to the zero ?

    • dian

      Saw the movie and love it.

      The actors did a really good job and their emotions felt real, hope the channel make and play more movies like this or touch other themes that apply to us in real life more frequently.

      do anyone happen to know the song’s name that was played?

    • Dan

      Most likely, Dian, you’re referring to “Forget the Fall” which was written and performed by Minnie Driver & Paul Adelstein. The RTZ web site has a link to buy the album or individual songs at iTunes. or

    • Alyson Trent

      I am so happy lifetime aired this movie. I lost my son last August at 26 days old and this movie captured everything just perfectly. The horrible emotions, the trauma it put on your life, the horrible reactions from people. Minnie Driver was perfect and Sean Hanish was so brave to make this movie and tell his and his wifes story. I am so glad to see the silence being broken about the topic of infant loss so that we as a culture can help those who have lost a child more effectively.

      About any “plot twists” – this was based on the directors true life story.

      About the length, RTZ was originally supposed to be a theater released movie until that fell apart and Lifetime was brave enough to pick it back up. So it was originally intended to be a full length movie.

    • NurseTammy

      I thought the movie was quite good…I care for women experiencing perinatal death and the experiences as described to me by the ladies I care for are at least that harrowing if not maybe a little worse. I could focus in on numerous well depicted points, but with the subsequent birth, her falling in love with the new baby and feeling things fully and in a healthy way took TIME, it did not happen in an instant. Having a subsequent baby does not wipe away the previous experience.

    • What Todo

      long movie but good the husband was a great fit for the movie

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