In the Picture
Directed by Bart Freundlich
Once again Hollywood has done it: turned an interesting premise into a clichéd and one-dimensional disappointment. It’s amazing that an industry worth so much money has so few realistic ideas about what’s actually entertaining.
Sandy (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is 40, gorgeous, and has given up her career to support her husband and children. While watching a video of her child’s birthday party she discovers that an acquaintance was cooking up sexual favours for her husband in the kitchen while she was on stage doing karaoke (yet another reason to leave performance to the professionals) so she ups and leaves with her kids for the bright lights of the city.
She meets a 24-year-old man and here’s where it’s supposed to be a romantic comedy with a difference: older woman, younger man, hijinks ensue.
Problem being there aren’t really any hijinks.
Any relationship where there’s an age difference has the potential for both conflict and humour but the writers didn’t bother exploring that; they had kids walking in while mum’s boffing the new boyfriend and stereotypically controlling rich Jewish parents and outrageous supporting characters to provide the humour.
This sort of felt like someone was almost trying to make a feminist statement by inverting the norm: woman dates younger man and finds herself by trusting her own talent, and ends up incredibly successful.
Actually the main problem with believing this movie has nothing to do with the central relationship (it’s pretty easy to imagine a 24-year-old falling in love with a successful, hot 40-year-old even if her forehead doesn’t move because of self-injecting botulism) but with Sandy’s career. At 40 she joins a sports channel as a researcher and at 45 she becomes an on-air presenter. Anyone who’s ever watched a sports show knows there are bugger-all female commentators and less than one percent of those are over 40 and even looking like Catherine Zeta Jones wouldn’t get you that job.
The Rebound had a couple of funny moments, it’s well-presented, reasonably well-acted and there were a few scenes that were interesting.
It just left me feeling annoyed that an interesting premise of the tensions that can exist in a relationship where there’s a significant age difference was skimmed over so lightly, despite what the trailer and promos promised. The same goes for society’s different expectations of women and men and the reality of the difficulties faced by women who have had time away from their careers when they try to re-enter the workforce.
This movie wasn’t terrible; I just wanted more from it. It showed good potential with a scene where the wronged wife is able to finally vent her anger at her oppressive, cheating husband and finds her voice. Had there been more of that tension and less reliance on stereotype it would have been less bland.