Bounce

Maybe Krzysztof Kieslowski could have made a moving examination of love, fate, and the cosmic significance of coincidence out of Bounce's story of real-estate agent Gwyneth Paltrow, who unknowingly falls for the man (Ben Affleck) who unsuspectingly gave her husband (Tony Goldwyn) a fatal airplane ticket. Maybe. But there's something so intrinsically tacky about the whole setup that it's hard to imagine any director pulling it off. Working from his own script, Don Roos (The Opposite Of Sex) gives it his best shot. Smirking meaningfully, Affleck plays a womanizing advertising whiz whose firm spins the disaster he narrowly survives into a Clio Award-winning campaign for the airline at fault, a move that sends Affleck whirling into a never-shown stint in rehab. Once released, he begins the process of making amends by looking up Goldwyn's widow, only to find himself smitten. Concealing his secret, he sets about winning her heart, apparently oblivious to the dramatic Sword Of Damocles Roos suspends sadistically over his head. Though considerably more sedate than the unpleasant Opposite, Bounce comes firmly stamped with the Roos brand, following fragile characters as they spout brittle dialogue on the way to better understanding the pain of their lives. Though they always appear to try, Affleck and Paltrow can only do so much with material even more shallow in execution than in conception: A standout low point has one of Paltrow's traumatized children playing a computer game involving crashing planes, as if we didn't already get the point. Even worse, Roos paces the film as if the studio promised to pay him for overtime. Having never shown Goldwyn's funeral, perhaps he felt obligated to invest the rest of the film with the atmosphere of a wake. When it grinds to a premature halt, he resorts to a deus ex machina nationally televised trial to wind matters up. Charged with sentimental manipulation, attempted tear-jerking, and obstruction of narrative, Roos should suffer the maximum penalty the law allows.

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