The Rebound, Bart Freundlich, 97 mins (15)
City Island, Raymond De Felitta, 100 mins (12A)

Zeta-Jones's age-gap romcom never gets out of second gear

Catherine Zeta-Jones might not have been the wisest casting choice for a romantic comedy about a supposedly unbridgeable age gap.

In The Rebound, her colleagues can't get over the idea that her boyfriend is 15 years younger than she is, an attitude which could prompt the wrong sort of laughs from the audience. Zeta-Jones's off-screen husband turned 25 on the day she was born.

All the same, the older woman/ younger man dalliance is fertile ground – as shown four years ago in Prime, with Uma Thurman, not to mention an entire series of Sex and the City.

Zeta-Jones plays a suburban mother who discovers her husband is having an affair. In the space of a montage, she's left him, moved to New York with her son and daughter, and secured an apartment and a job (an upheaval which doesn't appear to affect her children in the slightest). She then hires a 24-year-old divorcee (Justin Bartha) as a babysitter, and their relationship takes a turn for the unprofessional.

That may sound like a solid opening act, but it takes The Rebound a whole hour to plod through it: the film is two-thirds over before Zeta-Jones and Bartha have their first kiss. Shouldn't the sex in a comedy called The Rebound happen immediately after a break-up? By the time Zeta-Jones and Bartha make it to the bedroom, they're long-standing confidants, and her ex-husband is ancient history.

When Bart Freundlich, the writer-director, finally gets around to

exploring the age-gap issue, there are only two set pieces that give us a glimpse of the film he might have made. One has Zeta-Jones smoking pot at a twentysomethings' party, and one has Bartha being patronised over dinner by her middle-aged friends. Beyond that, Freundlich (Julianne Moore's husband, incidentally) makes almost nothing of the central dilemma. And not one person comments that if the genders were reversed, the age gap wouldn't be remotely remarkable. That omission couldn't have anything to do with the leading lady's private life, could it?

City Island is also set in New York, although not a part of New York that's been seen much on the big screen. The title refers to a quaint fishing village – in the Bronx, no less – with its beachfront houses, sailing boats bobbing in the harbour, and a view of Manhattan's skyscrapers on the horizon. It's amazing it hasn't featured in a dozen romcoms before now.

City Island isn't a romantic comedy, though, but a soft-centred comedy drama about a family that's bursting with secrets. Andy Garcia is a prison warden who dreams of being Marlon Brando but who is so afraid of his wife's mockery that he tells her that his acting classes are poker games. His wife, Julianna Margulies, assumes that he's having an affair. Their teenage son is obsessed with obese women; their daughter (Garcia's in real life) pays her college fees by pole dancing, and everyone in the family smokes when no one's watching. Oh, and Garcia has a grown-up son he's never met.

It's a bit too neat and tidy, this apportioning of secrets, especially when they all come to light in the same climactic scene, with so much hugging and so few recriminations that there was obviously never any need for anyone to keep quiet in the first place. The writer-director picks the feelgood option over the dramatic one at every turn, and while this cosiness makes City Island hard to dislike, it's just as hard to believe in it.

Next Week:

Nicholas Barber time-travels back to the Eighties with The A-Team and The Karate Kid

Also Showing: 25/07/2010

Baaria (151 mins, 15)

Giuseppe Tornatore (Cinema Paradiso) pays tribute to his Sicilian home town in a saga which spans much of the 20th century: dirt roads are paved, cars displace horses, and a shepherd's son grows up to be a family man and aspiring Communist politician. There are a few sparks of satirical fire – the councillor in charge of town-planning is blind – but Baaria is, essentially, one long nostalgic wallow. Backed up by Ennio Morricone's glutinous score, it assures us that in the good old days, peasant hardship was balanced by loving families, merry festivities and continual sunshine. Tornatore tries to include every anecdote he's ever heard, but there's no over-arching plot to link them, so he keeps skipping from scene to scene, and from year to year, without dwelling on anything in particular. As protracted as it is, the structure of Baaria is so episodic and incomplete that it's like a two-and-a-half hour trailer for a film that lasts a week.

Ivul (96 mins, 15)

After an incestuous fumble with his sister in the family's French chateau, a teenage boy is told by his father never to set foot on his land again. The boy takes the instruction literally, and lives for months in the branches of the estate's trees. Andrew Kötting, a British video artist, disguises the slightness of his Gothic story with some irritatingly experimental editing.

My Night with Maud (113 mins, PG)

A reissue of one of Eric Rohmer's most beloved films, a black-and-white "moral tale" from 1969. You could class this as a romantic comedy, but this is one in which the characters sit around debating Pascal and Catholicism, which doesn't happen very often in a Catherine Zeta-Jones romcom.

Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Arts and Entertainment
The audience aimed thousands of Apple’s product units at Taylor Swift throughout the show
musicReview: On stage her manner is natural, her command of space masterful
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Channel 4 is reviving its Chris Evans-hosted Nineties hit TFI Friday

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade (1989)

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
A Glastonbury reveller hides under an umbrella at the festival last year

Glastonbury
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miles Morales is to replace Peter Parker as the new Spider-Man

comics
Arts and Entertainment
The sequel to 1993's Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, has stormed into the global record books to score the highest worldwide opening weekend in history.

film
Arts and Entertainment
Odi (Will Tudor)
tvReview: Humans, episode 2
Arts and Entertainment
Can't cope with a Port-A-loo? We've got the solution for you

FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets

Arts and Entertainment
Some zookeepers have been braver than others in the #jurassiczoo trend

Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant

Arts and Entertainment
An original Miffy illustration
art
Arts and Entertainment
Man of mystery: Ian McKellen as an ageing Sherlock Holmes
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Kitchen set: Yvette Fielding, Patricia Potter, Chesney Hawkes, Sarah Harding and Sheree Murphy
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Evans has been confirmed as the new host of Top Gear
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Top of the class: Iggy Azalea and the catchy ‘Fancy’
music
Arts and Entertainment
Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters performs at Suncorp Stadium on February 24, 2015 in Brisbane, Australia.

music
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Evans had initially distanced himself from the possibility of taking the job

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
British author Matt Haig

books
Arts and Entertainment
Homeland star Damian Lewis is to play a British Secret Service agent in Susanna White's film adaptation of John le Carre's Our Kind of Traitor

Film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

    Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
    Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

    One day to find €1.6bn

    Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
    New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

    'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

    Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
    Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

    Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

    The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
    Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

    Historians map out untold LGBT histories

    Public are being asked to help improve the map
    Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

    Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

    This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
    Paris Fashion Week

    Paris Fashion Week

    Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
    A year of the caliphate:

    Isis, a year of the caliphate

    Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
    Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

    Marks and Spencer

    Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
    'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

    'We haven't invaded France'

    Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
    Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

    Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

    The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
    7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

    Remembering 7/7 ten years on

    Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
    Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

    They’re here to help

    We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
    Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

    Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

    'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
    What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

    What exactly does 'one' mean?

    Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue