Recently retired real-life couple Ben Affleck and Gwyneth Paltrow team up in Bounce. This drama pays homage to romance in a traditional sense: the question isn't when these yuppie malcontents will hook up, but rather whether they're ready to build their fling into something more substantive. Writer-director Don Roos embraces this refreshing approach with dialogue and social scenery constructed for realism.
Bounce opens with amped ad-guy Buddy Amaral (Ben Affleck) offering his plane ticket to a family man. He accepts the layover to pursue a one-night stand. Upon learning that his intended flight suffered a fatal crash, Buddy's boozing plunges into alcoholism. Years later, with drained self-confidence, he visits the man's widowed wife (Gwyneth Paltrow) in search of reconciliation. The attraction between their fragile selves is instant (much like the strikingly similar scenario in Tim O'Brien's recent New Yorker story, and a bit like last year's Random Hearts) but shadowed by Buddy's unconfessed involvement in her husband's death.
Quality support surrounds the main pair; the entire scenario is rendered sharply. Johnny Galecki stands out as Buddy's sardonic assistant. Like every mother widowed on the silver screen, Paltrow's children harbor a manipulative cuteness. The extravagant central premise occasionally grazes the story's predictable modesty, but Bounce is so well constructed that this friction doesn't hinder its enjoyment.
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