Script-writer Marc Lawrence is back with his fourth direction and fourth collaboration with Hugh Grant.
The Rewrite is a figurative title suggestive of Keith Michaels’ (Hugh Grant) life as a washed-up screenwriter with an Oscar-winning film to his name. Now begging for work, the bleak prospects lead him to accepting a teaching job in rural Binghamton whilst believing that talent can’t be taught. He is off to a crummy start between getting drunk and insulting a top member of the faculty, sleeping with a student and dismissing the class for a month. At this point, Holly Carpenter (Marisa Tomei) shows up. Holly is a mature student, a single mum juggling classes and children, whilst making ends meet by giving dance lessons, working at the university shop, as well as serving as a waitress. She is, as a humorous love-story would demand, his opposite.
Yet, as Grant points out whilst speaking about this film, to advertise it as a romantic comedy does not do it justice. The story has a depth of character and this is a character who has lost his way. It is above all, about Keith finding himself once again and so the film’s title comes into play.
Lawrence’s script begs for less twinning to his earlier Music & Lyrics (2007) whilst Grant reenacts earlier character, Alex Fletcher from this hit with the same laugh, tone and way with words through the first half of the film, making it difficult to focus on him as the new character, Keith. That said, Grant plays his usual charismatic, blundering and obviously lost protagonist to perfection, this time adding that glint of tears never seen in his earlier films. He says that since becoming a dad, he becomes emotional more easily. Mentioning his fatherly side, in this film Hugh takes on a paternal role, not only to his estranged son but more so with the students.
The direction craves for a more even distribution of events. The first half seems lacking and long-drawn-out as compared to the second, which is interesting, engaging and makes the events from the first hour click into place. Moreover, I am impressed with the use of weather as an allegory to Keith’s life which, now in his desolate days, has Binghamton in perpetual rain showers until that final part where together with his revival out comes the sun. That and the colour scheme whenever the cinematographer wants to portray the dreariness that is Keith’s current life, makes for a pleasant surprise in this mainstream story.
All in all, this is a film worth watching. It will leave you wondering long after you leave the theatre and not least about those final minutes just before the credits come up when Lawrence shows us that there is hope after all.
The Rewrite is a KRS release currently showing at the Eden Cinemas.