The violation of somebody’s own body is a delicate subject matter for filmmakers to explore, and yet given the alarming and disquieting statistics of its regularity, it’s one that cinema has an obligation to study and dissect, as an art-form that in many cases, works as a candid, harsh reflection of reality. Fouad Mikati’s Return to Sender offers an intriguing insight into the aftermath of such a reprehensible act, from both the victim and the perpetrator’s point of views. However any such potential in this narrative is undone by a frustrating inclination for cliché.

Rosamund Pike plays the victim, a nurse who agrees, somewhat hesitantly, to go on a blind date with a colleague’s friend. However the date, William Finn (Shiloh Fernandez) arrives to pick her up earlier than expected, and when she welcomes him in, he proceeds to violently rape her, in her own kitchen. Shaken, and requiring the support of her enraged father (Nick Nolte), she attempts to come to terms, and move on from this heinous crime – while the perpetrator is sentenced to prison time.

Mikati explores themes in this endeavour that are seldom seen in cinema where films of this ilk are concerned; the act of redemption. The idea that the victim is seemingly willing to let her attacker back into her life and makes amends for what he did, is a unique spin on this violent crime. It’s also interesting to see how both parties are affected by the crime that took place. Generally speaking, to see how a victim copes is a more regular occurrence in film, but witnessing the events from the perspective of the perpetrator less so. While the former’s tale is incomparably more empathetic, the latter’s is equally as intriguing. How does the rapist feel after doing something so barbaric?

Pike’s narrative remains paramount, however, and it’s remarkably well-judged and understated in its conviction. It’s not overtly cinematic, initially, and we watch on as she struggles to partake in her usual, everyday activities. It’s subtle in that regard, as we just watch her lying down watching the television, vacant, always somewhere else. Or when she’s back at work, and just can’t seem to function as she normally does, clumsily dropping her equipment and getting worked up as a result – the small incidents that shows how profound an affect this ordeal has had.

Pike is excellent in the lead role, and while this is probably just a mere reaction to her performance in Gone Girl – you do struggle to ever quite put your trust in her, and while she makes for an affable protagonist, you feel that what you see isn’t always what you get – and this makes for a volatile and exciting entry point, adding to the intensity of the narrative at hand. However, the direction is no match for the performance, and the conventional, hackneyed means of storytelling seeks only in devaluing what is otherwise a strong narrative.