Dark comedies are tricky beats to master, in that you have to balance a fine line between keeping the humor on track with the twisted. When done correctly, for example the Coen Brothers’ A Serious Man, the results can be superb, but if mismanaged it can truly ruin what could have been something spectacular. Such is the case with The Details, directed and written by Jacob Aaron Estes (Mean Creek), a hybrid love and horror morality tale about the dangers of how one behaves in this world and the rabbit hole of consequences that can result in one single bad decision.
Tobey Maguire stars as Dr. Jeffery Lang, who after 10 years of seemingly idyllic suburban life, finds that both his marriage and mental health have become broken. One day he decides that he wants to create the perfect backyard lawn in anticipation of a second child potentially coming in the near future. However this vision of a perfect lawn is instantly compromised and terrorized by raccoons, who repeatedly tear up the grass. These raccoons serve as a metaphor for Lang’s animal behavior as his attempts to exterminate the rodents lead him into downward spiral of chaotic chain reactions.
There are some great performances from the supporting cast which include Elizabeth Banks (30 Rock) as Lang’s wife, Ray Liotta as Peter Mazzoni, a neighbor betrayed by Lang after he sleeps with his wife, Dennis Haysbert as Lincoln a down on his luck religious friend to Lang and Laura Linney as the crazy cat woman neighbor Lila. And while Maguire does he best to give Lang some layers and depth, he is constantly overshadowed by the other actors while his trademark deadpan delivery doesn’t do much for the films offbeat rhythms. The real show stealer is Linney whose neurotic persona brings life to scenes that are otherwise dreary and monotonous.
Estes, who is aiming to create an existential midlife crisis fairy tale, fails to make any correlation between the absurdist humor and the animalistic human nature of his characters. It’s a situation of finding the balance in tone, which when not achieved results in a lack of focus. Instead the film feels like a series of interconnected vignettes of modern life gone wrong that tries to outdo the next in terms of sheer ridiculousness. The Details yearns to be a deeper movie than it actually is and unfortunately is too quirky for its own good.
One of the most highly anticipated films of the Cannes Film Festivals was unveiled this morning to a divisive response, Nicolas Winding Refn‘s Only God Forgives. As we said in our review, “set amidst an underground Muay Thai boxing club and glowing with hellish red lights from countless brothels, the mood and style is more [...]
With this year’s Cannes Film Festival halfway done, one of the clear highlights is Coens‘ 1960′s-set folk music tale Inside Llewyn Davis. Profiling a down on his luck musician (Oscar Isaac), whose natural talent indicates he is destined for success, the film is a vivid portrait of what it means to be a starving artist. In [...]
Welcome to the latest episode of our official podcast, The Film Stage Show. This week, staff writer Danny King, associate editor Nick Newman and I review J.J. Abram‘s new entry in his flagship franchise, Star Trek Into Darkness. Before that, though, we run down our top 3 most-anticipated films of the Cannes Film Festival. Finally, we take a look at the [...]
There is truly something magical when you combine the French Riviera, the global film market and thousands of hungry filmgoers and critics. The end result is what has come to be known as the most prestigious film festival in the world, the Cannes Film Festival, currently in its 66th iteration. This is my third year [...]
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