Opening June 16, 2016
Directed by: Jean-Marc Vallée
Writing credits: Bryan Sipe
Principal actors: Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Chris Cooper, Judah Lewis, Polly Draper
Davis (Gyllenhaal) and his wife (Heather Lind) are successful, and have a good relationship with their families. Then, fate takes a turn; Julia dies in a tragic accident. Davis spirals into what seems suspended shock. A vending machine incident at the hospital causes Davis to write complaint letters. Margot (Draper) and Phil (Cooper) try to get through to their son-in-law. When the vending company’s customer service lady (Watts) responds to Davis’ letters, inadvertently a connection occurs. That leads to his meeting, and bonding with her troubled son Chris (Lewis). And, it is through this unlikely friendship that Davis is able to start feeling again.
Eerily resembling another Gyllenhaal film, Southpaw, 2015, Gyllenhaal disappointingly follows that good role with this one. A line early on regarding fixing something, “ take everything apart and then put it together again”, is supposed to explain the implausible and tasteless actions that follow; it does not. Director Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club, 2014) with screenwriter Bryan Sipe (The Choice, 2016) made this unimaginative film. The cast does respectable work; production values are fine. Even the cutesy ending fails to expunge offensive preceding scenes – for example, Davis and Chris target practicing in the woods and at Davis’ house. For most, wanton destruction is not funny. 100 minutes (Marinell H.)