The year after Friends ended, Aniston made two films, one of which, Derailed we’ll cover in the coming weeks. The other is an odd identity crisis comedy/drama based on the idea of The Graduate being a true story related to Aniston’s character. Aniston pretty much carries the film, which, amongst the weirdness, almost saves it.
FILM: Rumour Has It…
DIRECTOR: Rob Reiner
CHARACTER NAME AND PROFESSION: Sarah Huttinger, Obituary Columnist
PLOT SUMMARY: Recently engaged Sarah and Jeff (Mark Ruffalo) fly to Sarah’s sister’s wedding in Pasadena. Sarah feels like an outsider in her own family and doesn’t know why, she’s also unsure about marrying Jeff. When he figures out that Sarah must have been conceived before her parents wedding, she insists that her mother (who died years earlier) must have had an affair with someone before she got married. Sarah questions her Grandmother, Katharine (Shirley MacLaine) and discovers that her mother ran off to Mexico and had an affair with a man called Beau Burroughs (Kevin Costner) before the wedding, and that this story became the basis for the book/movie/play, The Graduate. Sarah sets off to find out if Beau is her biological father.
CHARACTER TRAITS: Withdrawn, introverted, insecure, caring, thoughtful.
NOTES ON PERFORMANCE: Aniston underplays for the most part here, portraying Sarah as someone really lost, but trying to keep it together. She handles Sarah’s arc very convincingly, and any awkward moments seem more down to the screenplay and direction than anything else. (See the moment she thinks she might have slept with her Dad – 1. Why include this scene? 2. Why play her reaction for laughs when it’s clearly a horrifying prospect?
NOTES ON FILM: This is an odd one. The film’s writer, Ted Griffin previously penned Ocean’s Eleven and Matchstick Men, so clearly had some successes to his name, he’s also from Pasadena, which explains his interest in depicting the particular gossip mill of the area. Director Rob Reiner, is half responsible for When Harry Met Sally, one of the greatest comedies of all time, so the missteps in this film are curious. What’s good about it, is that it at least focuses on Sarah’s identity crisis, and leads towards her eventual closeness with her sister. What doesn’t work is the way this potentially thoughtful subject is explored – through perfunctory sexual encounters (with zero chemistry thanks to Costner) and ‘comedic’ incest issues. Sarah and Jeff do not seem like a good fit from the start, and the film doesn’t totally convince in concluding that Sarah just needs to appreciate what she’s got. One other note: Shirley MacLaine is excellent, as usual.
CONCLUSION: Aniston gets through it, and Ruffalo is charming, but this is just feels like Aniston testing out themes she’s explored better elsewhere (See Friends with Money, 2006).