If I remember correctly, I gave this movie a miss last year because the review wasn’t great. But since it’s on the shelf of the library@esplanade when I last visited, I thought: Why not just watch it? After all, there’re Jake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts, if nothing else.
Because I didn’t have high expectations, I wasn’t really disappointed, though I didn’t think much of the story or even the way music is used.
The movie opens with Davis Mitchell (Jake Gyllenhaal) having a short conversation in the car with his wife just before an accident killed her. It’s tragic; but the music is a nice, soothing piano solo. Quite puzzling.
After the funeral, Davis left alone while the family, relatives and friends gathered at home. Here, J S Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto is used. This is a solemn occasion, so I understand the choice.
Davis works as an investment banker with his father-in-law Phil Eastwood (Chris Cooper). Phil didn’t like Davis, who grew up in Jersey and didn’t come from money. On top of that, Davis’ behaviour after the funeral was unexpected, erratic and bordering on bizzare, like pulling a train to an emergency stop, watching people’s luggages for hours at the airport, tearing the bathroom door apart, smashing almost everything at home, pulling the refrigerator apart, paying construction workers to take over their demolition work, and even getting a bulldozer to completely bring his house down. All these are accompanied by loud and fast music. To depict the ‘craziness’, the destruction and the devastation, I suppose.
Davis forms an unlikely connection with Karen (Noami Watts) and her son Chris (Judah Lewis) after Karen calls Davis on behalf of the vending machine company because Davis wrote four letters to complain and ask for compensation for the M & M chocolates that were not dispensed. It is fine when lovely instrumental music plays when they enjoy the beach and ocean, but I don’t understand why the ethereal Chopin’s Nocturne Op 9 No 2 is used when Davis and Chris are badly assaulted, so much so that Chris needs surgery.
When Davis discovers a shocking secret, there is no suitable music (not silence either) that brings out the mood or atmosphere. Neither is there any when Davis visits the grave of his wife. The closing scene is most puzzling of all – Davis walking along the pier to rock music.