American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
"Bounce" begins with flights delayed at O'Hare. One guy gives another guy his boarding pass, the plane crashes, the other guy dies. The survivor is Buddy (Ben Affleck), an alcoholic ad executive from Los Angeles, whose boozing now spirals out of control, until he joins Alcoholics Anonymous and finds that one of the 12 steps involves making amends to those he harmed with his drinking. So he pays a call on Abby (Gwyneth Paltrow), the widow of the man who died in the crash.
Strictly speaking, Buddy has no amends to make. He was doing the other guy a favor. It wasn't his fault that the flight crashed. But he tracks down Abby, discovers she's a real-estate agent, and arranges for her to get a commission on a building his agency was going to buy anyway. Then she asks him to a Dodgers game, and before you know it, they're in love and he's bonding with her kids.
The problem, of course, is that he hasn't told her he's responsible in some cosmic, fateful way for her husband's death. He means to, but he puts it off. Lovers with untold secrets are a familiar movie situation, seen earlier this year in "Return to Me," when Minnie Driver can't tell David Duchovny his late wife's heart was transplanted into her chest.
"Bounce" builds toward a big revelation scene, of course, and when it comes, it has to be perfectly aimed and well-acted because both actors are on thin ice. The moment of truth in "Bounce" is not quite right. The revelation is delayed a few scenes beyond its natural place in the film, and we grow restless; we enjoy the suspense only up to a point. Buddy moistens his lips, clears his throat and coughs nervously and still doesn't tell Abby, and it begins to feel like the movie's playing with us.