The Rebound

The Rebound


Reviewed by: Josh Morrall

Despite being marketed as though it is another throwaway, useless romcom money-spinner, The Rebound is not as bad as everyone probably expects. It begins unenthusiastically with a typical attention deficit credit sequence and takes some time to get going, but once it does it bounces along quite nicely, revealing itself to be a well-rounded, subtle and touching exploration of the age divide and parenthood.

Catherine Zeta-Jones plays wronged housewife Sandy, who leaves her home in suburbia and heads for the wilds of New York City with her two young children to start afresh. The audience endures half an hour of a generic reintegration into busy society narrative as Sandy finds a flat, looks for a job (she’s a meticulous sports statistician in her spare time) and takes self-defense classes, as in the city perverts lurk at every corner ready to flash their wares. This monotony ceases when the quiet Aram (Justin Bartha) is taken on as Sandy’s nanny. The two strike up a comfortable friendship that later develops into something that can’t possibly work.

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The real achievement here is Aram’s relationship with Sandy’s children. Rather than being told that Aram is good with kids, the audience is shown several instances of Aram interacting with them in a way that perhaps only a 24-year-old could. His actions are borderline inappropriate with them at times, but director Bart Freundlich is keen to draw attention to this potential issue. There is, for example, a scene at a bowling alley in which Aram discusses his new, sexualized relationship with their mother with the kids. The children put to use some of the new words they have learnt from their inner-city school chums and the woman in the adjoining lane is visibly disapproving.

It is Aram who continues to act as a gentle preventative to The Rebound being almost completely vacuous. Initially Catherine Zeta-Jones’ milky eyes and wheeze-box voice make it impossible to sympathize with her, especially following the diabolical No Reservations, but once she gets together with Aram, she becomes far more likeable. There will be those, and most probably many, who find Aram to be an over-sensitive metrosexual nudnik, in which case, minimal enjoyment can be derived from this film, but for me, the tone of his relationship with Sandy makes for an innocent and loveable pairing.

While this could all be viewed as a sassy aboutface reflection on Zeta-Jones’ relationship with Michael Douglas, there is more going on than in your typical romantic comedy. Scenes with Aram’s parents and Sandy are not played out for comic value alone, but are seen through in their awkwardly real way. There is an impressively underhand turn from Joanna Gleason as Aram’s mother, forcing Sandy to grin and bear her way through Aram’s birthday celebration.

While many of the genre specifics are at work, so, too, are a considered script, a pacing that favours the story and an ending that doesn’t cheat. Many will be annoyed with the travel-the-world montage intercut with Sandy’s career progression, but there are only so many ways to tell the story of an impractical union. The Rebound does it more thoughtfully and engagingly than most.

Reviewed on: 23 Jul 2010
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A young New Yorker finds himself smitten with the single mother next door, despite a challenging age difference.
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Read more The Rebound reviews:

Scott Macdonald ***
Chris ***

Director: Bart Freundlich

Writer: Bart Freundlich

Starring: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Justin Bartha

Year: 2009

Runtime: 97 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


EIFF 2010

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