Movie Reviews: The Rebound, Splice, London River
THE REBOUND * * *
Cert 15, 94 mins
Catherine Zeta-Jones knows all about age-gap romances, but in this film she falls for a younger man.
There are 25 years between her and husband Michael Douglas, but a mere 16 between her character and love interest in this romantic comedy.
She plays Sandy, who discovers her husband is cheating on her and moves with her two young children to New York City.
She gets an apartment above a coffee shop where sweet Aram Finklestein (Justin Bartha) works.
He still lives at home with his stereotypically Jewish parents – including Art Garfunkel as his father – and hasn’t worked out where he’s going in life.
He volunteers to babysit her kids and then she takes him on as a nanny.
Despite the difference in their ages – he’s 24, she’s 40 – they discover they have something in common.
Aram is getting a divorce too, from a French girl who just used him to get a green card.
They grow closer and start dating. Sandy’s friend is all for the fling as long as he’s just her rebound guy, but can they really build a lasting relationship?
Written and directed by Bart Freundlich (aka Mr Julianne Moore), there are a few funny lines – especially when she goes on a cringey date with a slimy chiropractor – but there are also too many unlikely scenarios and clunky dialogue.
The tone is uneven, veering from being laugh-out-loud funny to serious via contrived and annoying farce, and there’s a clichéd extended montage.
Character development is lacking. It’s especially hard to get a handle on what Sandy is really like – she starts off as a kooky, germaphobic mum who tells her children to “own your own power”, but those quirks swiftly disappear.
She’s not especially likeable and is very competitive, declaring: “I’d do yoga if I can win.” It’s easier to warm to Aram but he’s two-dimensional too. Her kids are cute, though.
This is a watchable and fairly entertaining movie, but with two brilliant films on at the cinema in Toy Story 3 and Inception, I wouldn’t be rushing to see it. Catch it on the DVD rebound. RL
SPLICE * * * *
Cert 15, 104 mins
After the recent deluge of movies involving vampires and werewolves and apocalyptic end-of-the-world plots, it has taken Toy Story 3 this week to return some old-fashioned cowboy heroics on to the silver screen.
This is such a refreshing change one can only keep hoping for a wild west revival from humans.
Meanwhile, there are enough creature discomforts in Splice for it to breathe considerable life into the old Frankenstein genre.
Not since Species introduced a naked Natasha Henstridge in 1995 has Hollywood managed to blend sex with horror in such entertaining fashion.
Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley play scientists Clive and Elsa. When a new creature called Dren is created using human DNA, Elsa displays a mother’s love.
“I’m a part of you,” she says. “And you’re a part of me.” But offering a new twist on I’m a Celebrity..., Clive yells: “Get out of there, I’m gonna gas it.”
Aware that the creature will develop much quicker than humans, Elsa sees the bigger picture and an opportunity to study its entire life cycle.
Generally ignoring Dren’s own perspective on events is a lost opportunity, even though director Vincenzo Natali showed with Cube (1997) that he could keep burrowing inside the heart of a story to the nth degree.
Trading intellectual debate for a predictable thrill-of-the-chase conclusion means the entire project collapses into a comparative mess by the end. The earlier, real value of Splice is that by sending more than a shiver or two down your spine it will reawaken interest about where dodgy science of this nature might take us.
With above average creature effects and a succinct title which neatly bridges medicine and filmmaking techniques alike, teenagers looking for escapism should love it. GY
LONDON RIVER * * *
Cert 12A, 88 mins
Showing at the MAC cinema in Cannon Hill Park from Thursday, this is a film about a different kind of motherly love. Brenda Blethyn plays Elisabeth who is hard at work growing vegetables in Guernsey.
Over in London, the suicide bomb attacks of July 2005 lead her to try to make contact with her daughter.
Not hearing back, she sets off for the capital where she meets African forester Ousmane (Sotigui Kouyaté) who is searching for his son.
A low key drama about parental instincts crossing international/cultural/religious boundaries as well as a haunting reminder about how little we know our children once they’ve fled the nest, London River feels unexpectedly one-dimensional.
There are too many helpful London shopkeepers to be believable and an excessive number of shots of Elisabeth’s shoulders from behind.
But Paris-born director Rachid Bouchareb captures the outsiders’ viewpoint in a European style.
And the over-riding sense of potentially catastrophic loss means this will stay with you for a lot longer than any happy-go-lucky popcorn movie. GY