The Details is a thoroughly unpleasant movie about thoroughly unpleasant people doing thoroughly unpleasant things. All of this is wrapped up in a banal, sort of vaguely upper-middle class listlessness about the world and the pointlessness of life. There is no comedy here, no real drama either. Only the smug, self-righteous implication that it is worth watching these terrible people and waste hours of our very limited lives when it offers nothing of value to us. It’s maybe not the worst movie I’ve seen this year, but it’s the one that’s made me the angriest so far.
I was fine with the premise of the film. Dr Jeffrey Lang (Maguire) moves in with his family, including wife Nealy (Banks) to a new suburb. While planning a fantastic new lawn, he finds himself undermined by a local raccoon population, and his initial vaguely-madcap actions against them could have made a decent movie. However, the film soon switches to his involvement with his neighbours, and what follows is an anthology of violence, misogyny, infidelity, and generally awful behaviour. The point that upsets me is not that these happen necessarily, as dark comedies often tackle such topics, but it’s about the tone set up; how you actually go about doing it. And what The Details does is make its protagonists stumble from one situation to another, demonstrating themselves to be even worse human beings each time, and ultimately, there’s no pay off at all, nothing happens of value. There’s no real redemption arc, actions are cheap, and at the end, things are much as they’ve always been.
There’s nothing for an audience to get behind or care about in the movie. It’s an hour and a half of watching terrible things happen, under the pretence of comedy. I know bad things happen in real life. That’s okay. But if you’re going to waste my time showing it in a movie, you need something better than just hoping I laugh at the shear pointlessness of it all.