Genre : Drama/Comedy
Country : USA
Jake Gyllenhaal : Davis
Naomi Watts : Karen
Chris Cooper : Phil
“He’s probably a crackhead.
Crackheads don’t give people $200.
They suck dick for $20.”
A film about the grieving process of a succesfull businessman after losing his wife in a terrible car accident. This isn’t exactly the right ingredient for an entertaining or funny movie. To be honest, it took me some effort to watch the whole movie. Actually, I wasn’t eager to watch another metaphorical film full of symbolism with Jake Gyllenhaal. Something similar as “Enemy“. It’s like Davis himself says in the film : “For some reason, everything has become a metaphor“. Just admit it. The next situation really sounds absurd. Someone gets the news of his wife’s death, while sitting in the waiting room of a hospital. It was a car accident and he doesn’t have a scratch on him. The first thing that comes to his mind after hearing this, is getting a bag of M and M’s from a vending machine. Unfortunately,it gets firmly stuck in the machine, which in turn leads to a correspondence between him and Karen (Naomi Watts), an employee of the vending machines company who works at the customers service department.
And you think this sounds already strange and absurd? Wait till you see how Davis follows the advice of his father in law Phil (Chris Cooper). He interprets it very literally. Phil’s advice was: “If you wanna fix something … You have to take everything apart … and figure out what’s important“. Before you know it, he begins to disassemble certain not so well-functioning devices. He takes it even a step further and starts working free of charge for a demolition company. Afterwards he seeks rapprochement to Karen and gets acquainted with her son Chris (Judah Lewis). Now his behavior becomes even more extreme. Chris seems to be a kindred spirit because of his doubts about his true sexual orientation. By the way, you can also enjoy a dazzling conversation between the two of them about the semantic meaning of the F-word.
Among aspiring philosophers and future psychiatrists, debates can flourish about the symbolism in this film. Is Davis’s behavior a reflection of his current situation? A slowly disintegrating personal life ? A defect in his mental machinery? Or is it a kind of “Tabula rasa” reaction, to start a new life? Again Gyllenhaal plays a slightly kooky character. Everyone assumes that a psychological short circuit is the cause of his eccentric behavior. Indisputable this kind of movie character is suitable for an actor like Gyllenhaal. After watching “Nightcrawler” I called him already the chameleon of Hollywood. This masterful actor has a natural flexibility to find the balance between a light manic mood and a natural relaxing moment with that amused and wondering gaze. A brilliant actor.
Besides Jake Gyllenhaal, also Judah Lewis was a colorful figure. Even the father in law was an interesting character, despite his rather limited role. The only one who didn’t have a high enough profile was Naomi Watts. A somewhat dull and colorless woman. A bit introverted due to some personal problems. I don’t know whether this was because of Watts or the script. What surprised me most was the way the film succeeded in keeping me captivated more and more. What started as a totally absurd and crazy story, gradually evolved into a gloomy (and touching) story filled with cynical humor. Only the corny ending, full of forgiveness and repentance, was slightly disappointing. Ultimately, this wasn’t a bad film (perseverance at the beginning is a must) with Gyllenhaal as a wacky individual. I wonder if he’ll continue in this direction in his future projects.