thu 18/08/2022

The Rebound | reviews, news & interviews

The Rebound

The Rebound

Predictable but enjoyable romcom that plays with art/ life parallels

Catherine Zeta Jones in 'The Rebound'

Let me lay a friendly fiver that many critics will rubbish this film, for the following reasons.

It’s a romcom, and a Hollywood one at that, the lowest form of cinematic life for many (most often male) critics; it stars Catherine Zeta-Jones, whose career has gone from British television mediocrity to Hollywood royalty, a heinous crime for some; and its story, about a 40-year-old mother of two who falls in love with a guy 15 years her junior, is a reverse parallel of Zeta-Jones’s own personal life (her husband, Michael Douglas, is 25 years older than she). Just listen to those knives being sharpened!

It’s a romcom, and a Hollywood one at that, the lowest form of cinematic life for many (most often male) critics; it stars Catherine Zeta-Jones, whose career has gone from British television mediocrity to Hollywood royalty, a heinous crime for some; and its story, about a 40-year-old mother of two who falls in love with a guy 15 years her junior, is a reverse parallel of Zeta-Jones’s own personal life (her husband, Michael Douglas, is 25 years older than she). Just listen to those knives being sharpened!

While you know how this will end, how it gets there is an interesting departure from the norm

In actuality, The Rebound is a funny, sexy, well observed and surprisingly moving tale about Sandy, who has devoted her life to keeping home and raising a family, only to discover her husband being fellated by a neighbour at their young son’s birthday party in their upstate New York mansion. So in a very economical piece of exposition from writer/ director Bart Freundlich in the movie’s opening scenes, she ups sticks and takes the kids to New York City to start a new life.

Sandy, as her ever-present hand sanitiser neatly tells us, has a tight rein on her emotions (it is, of course, also code for being sexually constrained) and she is an obsessive keeper of sports statistics, which helps her to find a junior job at a television station.

She moves into a bijou apartment with her kids Frank and Sadie (the precociously talented and delightfully funny Andrew Cherry and Kelly Gould) above a coffee shop where Aram Finklestein (Justin Bartha), a drifting college grad of 25, works. He’s still bruised by the ex-wife who used him to get a Green Card and has a pushy, overbearing Jewish mother (Joanna Gleason, giving great Oy!) who wants him to find a proper job and a nice woman to have children with, while his dad (Art Garfunkel) is about to - I kid you not - have “an anus replacement”. That's one of several storylines that goes nowhere in a film I suspect is based on characters from the director’s own life (he is married to actress Julianne Moore, 10 years his senior, shock horror), but which, however irrelevant, he has shoehorned into it for comedic value alone.

Aram becomes the children’s nanny and, predictably, Sandy’s lover. Her best friend tells her to treat him as the rebound lover and move on to her next husband, while his mother is appalled at the age difference. There is a beautifully observed scene when the two women in Aram’s life give him birthday presents - an expensive antique watch that belonged to his grandfather from his mother, an expensively framed photograph of her children from Sandy; he is caught between past loyalties and possible future happiness.

Aram and Sandy eventually part when it’s apparent neither is completely free from their past lives. Her career goes from strength to strength, he travels the world To Find Himself. Cut to five years later. The couple meet by accident (ha!) and we just know they will be reconciled as one big happy family, complete with Aram’s parents (no mention of his dad's new anus, though) and an addition I won’t spoil the fun by identifying. And trust me, I'm not giving away anything because while you know how this will end, how it gets there is an interesting departure from the norm.

It has to be said Zeta-Jones’s accent - variable at the best of times in real life - is distinctly dodgy (why didn’t Freundlich let her play an immigrant Brit?) and there are some gloopy moments; this is a Hollywood movie about love, after all. But the kids are terrific, New York City is always a star and some of the throwaway lines are laugh-out-loud funny - and what could have been a tacky cougar film (in the US) and an even tackier milf movie (in the UK) turns out to be an entertaining love story. It’s not Chekhov, but then doesn’t pretend to be and (as I always contend with even the most sentimental of Hollywood movies) has some important life lessons to teach us - here about age being merely a number and real love being worth waiting for. Enjoy.

What could have been a tacky milf movie turns out to be an entertaining love story

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