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Sarah Michelle Gellar

Sarah Michelle Gellar - "The Return" Movie - Rediff.com Review

Arthur J Pais

Wednesday 15 November 2006, by Webmaster

Sarah Michelle Gellar, a name synonymous with versatility and enduring appeal, began her illustrious career in the entertainment industry as a child. Discovered by a talent agent at a young age, Gellar’s screen debut came at the tender age of six with the television film "An Invasion of Privacy" in 1983. Her early promise led to a leading role in the teen drama series "Swans Crossing" in 1992, but it was her portrayal of Kendall Hart on the ABC soap opera "All My Children" (1993-1995) that earned her a Daytime Emmy Award and catapulted her into the limelight.

SMG’s true claim to international fame, however, was her iconic role as Buffy Summers in the groundbreaking series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (1997-2003). Her performance not only garnered her five Teen Choice Awards, a Saturn Award, and a Golden Globe nomination, but it also cemented her status as a cultural icon. Sarah Michelle Gellar’s filmography is equally impressive, with box office hits like "I Know What You Did Last Summer" (1997), "Scream 2" (1997), "Cruel Intentions" (1999), "Scooby-Doo" (2002), and "The Grudge" (2004) collectively grossing over $570 million globally.

Beyond her cinematic successes, Gellar has made her mark on television, headlining shows such as "Ringer" (2011-2012), "The Crazy Ones" (2013-2014), and "Wolf Pack" (2023). She has also lent her voice to popular series including "Robot Chicken" (2005-2018), "Star Wars Rebels" (2015-2016), and "Masters of the Universe: Revelation" (2021).

In 2015, Gellar ventured into the entrepreneurial world by co-founding Foodstirs, an e-commerce baking company, and published her own cookbook, "Stirring Up Fun with Food," in 2017. Gellar is also known for her close-knit family life, married to actor Freddie Prinze Jr. since 2002, with whom she shares two children.

Sarah Michelle Gellar’s commitment to her craft is matched by her dedication to personal growth and unique experiences. An accomplished martial artist, she studied Tae Kwon Do for five years, alongside kickboxing, boxing, street fighting, and gymnastics. Her dedication to authenticity in her roles is evident, such as her commitment to doing her own stunts in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," though she admitted her limits during filming "Scream 2."

Her career is also marked by interesting anecdotes, such as her role in a 1982 Burger King commercial, which led to a lawsuit from McDonald’s and a temporary ban from their establishments. Notably, she dyed her naturally brunette hair blonde for her role in "Buffy," and legally changed her last name to Prinze as a surprise for her husband on their fifth anniversary.

Sarah Michelle Gellar’s legacy extends beyond her on-screen roles, encompassing her work in philanthropy and her reputation for safety and professionalism on set. She remains a beloved figure in Hollywood, admired for her talent, dedication, and the breadth of her contributions to film and television.

After Warrior, Asif Kapadia’s Return bombs

With the unceremonious failure of his first Hollywood film, The Return, a supernatural thriller starring scream queen Sarah Michelle Gellar, British filmmaker Asif Kapadia will have to struggle hard to convince Hollywood to finance his films.

The movie opened at number eight with a meager $4.8 million weekend in nearly 2,000 theatres in North America. Though it did not cost a fortune — it was made for under $15 million — and could eventually recover its cost, it was still an underperformer, especially when one remembers that horror films usually open big in North America, many grossing $20 million in three days.

Distributor Rogue/Focus did minimum publicity for the film. It did not screen the film for the critics, a sign that it feared terrible reviews. Critics slammed the film for being boring and incoherent. ’You may see scarier movies this year,’ declared The New York Times, ’but none so redolent of decomposition.’

Even Gellar, the star of big slasher hits as The Grudge and Cruel Intentions could not give life to the film, they complained. ’As B-level suspensers go, though, The Return isn’t actively awful,’ noted The Boston Globe, adding it was ’just slow and cursed with a lead who acts with her T-shirt.’

Gellar plays a business woman who starts having nightmares of a murder that occurred 15 years ago and is drawn to an old farmhouse — the location of the murder.

With his first film, The Warrior starring Irrfan, winning plaudits from reviewers ranging from London’s Guardian to The New York Times, there were high expectations for it to do well in the art houses. But the film, shot entirely in India, did not find an audience on both sides of the Atlantic.

When Kapadia accepted the project, based on a script by newcomer Adam Sussman, he found possibilities of making a thriller with spirituality.

’It is an essentially a very American movie,’ he noted in the press kit for The Return. ’But it had a sensual central idea of something spiritual, something otherworldly. Different people — in different religions — have been brought up with the concept that people might die and come back in another life in another form.’

Like in The Warrior, the new film too has elements of redemption.

’It offers the view that people are on some sort of path and that we’re not all separate beings,’ he continued. ’Somehow, there’s a force out there that links things up. You can try to come back to correct something that happened to you in another life.’

Gellar quickly saw the karmic dimensions of her role.

’When we first meet her (Joanna, her character), she’s fairly lost; living her life, but not experiencing it,’ she mused. ’She had a rough childhood, ran away, took a job that she wasn’t necessarily passionate about but was good at — and allowed her to travel, so that she was never in one place long enough to worry about belonging. But things start happening, and she starts to deteriorate very quickly and goes on a frightening and passionate journey.’

But the critics and the audiences did not find anything startling, scary or passionate about the film.

’The slow, uneventful film offers no visual ingenuity, just some cheap shocks courtesy of crashing sound cues,’ complained The Seattle Times. ’The movie’s biggest riddle is whatever happened to the credibility of Sam Shepard, collecting a paycheck for a few scenes as Gellar’s dubious dad.’

’Kapadia,’ the reviewer continued, ’has a repertoire of second-hand Hitchcock camera moves, along with a harrowing amount of pretense. It’s like he can’t even be bothered trying to entertain the audience.’

The weekend box office was led once again by the crude but funny comedy Borat which grossed a strong $29 million, taking its 10-day total to $68 million.

Among the newcomers, The Return was not the only dud. The $30 million A Good Year starring London-based investment expert settling down in a French chateau, earned just about $3.8 million. Starring Russell Crowe and directed by Ridley Scott (the two had worked previously on the big hit The Gladiator) arrived in America after bombing in the United Kingdom.