November 30, 2000

Trite, Yet Made Right

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A classic romantic drama — boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy falls out of favor with girl, boy does some melodramatic, apologetic act to win girl back, boy is forgiven by girl, boy and girl live happily ever after. THE END. Now add a little creative detail, a gorgeous actor, a beautiful actress, and the plot is bumped up to a new level.

Yet after seeing this movie, I wonder whether the audience is able to separate advertisement and propaganda from actual merit. In other words, is the audience able to “bounce” back from the extensive Hollywood hype and publicity given to this movie in order to see the very common and trite themes that run through it?

Bounce, directed by Don Roos, is the story of Buddy Amaral, a sleek advertising executive played by Ben Affleck. While waiting for a delayed flight back to Los Angeles, Buddy offers to give his ticket to struggling playwright Greg Janello (Tony Goldwyn), so that he can spend the night with a woman he meets at the airport. Wanting to return home to his family, Greg accepts the offer and thus accepts a horrible twist of fate.

When Greg’s plane crashes, killing all aboard, Buddy experiences a crash as well. Traumatized by how close he came to being on the flight, Buddy finds short-lived comfort in alcohol before seeking contact with Greg’s widow, Abby. In an attempt to amend both his conscience and his character, Buddy, now sober, finds Abby by pretending to be a client, and later asks her to manage his office’s real-estate deal.

Unexpectedly falling in love with her, Buddy cannot disclose to Abby how he found her, or the information about her husband that he harbors. Thus, a love based upon the conflicting notions of trust and deception flourishes until the truth comes out, and then follows the traditional plot of the romantic drama.

Gwyneth Paltrow, with her natural charm and acting ability, relates well on screen with Affleck. But you wouldn’t expect anything less, considering the closeness of their real life-rapport.

Adhering to the tagline, “This October, fall in love with fate,” it is inevitable that the audience falls in love with Bounce; nevertheless, from a critical standpoint, one must ask why. Is it a love affair with the film itself, or is it the idea of these two stars being in love? Would this well-acted movie be as passionate and heart-felt without its stellar cast and the pervasive attention that it has received?

Although I am unable to answer these questions, I will admit that I too was unable to bounce back from the Hollywood hype. Falling in love with fate, I saw this movie as an understated and easily appreciated story of romance that I had difficulty separating from the characters who enhanced it.

Archived article by Barbara Seigel