Come here, let me slap you!
No matter what role he's playing, Jake Gyllenhaal has this smug expression which seems to say, 'Look at me, I'm so talented my eyebrows can win Oscars'. And in this movie he 'acts' so entitled, you want to slap him and say, 'If you're so intellectual, why are you taking everything so literally?' This problem is, that this 'clever' film treats the audience like morons. Just not cricket.
So Jake Gyllenhaal's character cannot grieve in the traditional way and shows up to work at the investment firm the day after his wife's funeral. His father in law, the head of the firm tells him to go home. He comes back, his parents are there, and dad leaves him with one piece of advice, 'When something doesn't work, break it down and find out why.'
And all fans of Jake Gyllenhaal go 'How cute! See! He's tearing apart everything from the leaking refrigerator at home to his computer at work and the loo door at work and then proceeds to simply bash the house his wife has lovingly created.'
It falls more in the region of stupid than intellectual. So the filmmakers decide to mask it by having Jake write to Customer Service of a vending machine company (the pack of peanut m&ms gets stuck) venting all his feelings about not really feeling grief at his wife's death and wanting a refund for the quarters swallowed by the hospital machine.
Of course the Customer Service is manned by a pothead Naomi Watts who begins to stalk him. They become friends and she sort of giggles at his 'break everything down' antics. Even potheads would know that letting a strange new friend spend time with her own strange kid. The playing with the gun scene is so stupid, you begin to hope the kid aims the gun at his head instead of the bulletproof vest.
The demolition of things doesn't stop there. He takes the bathroom lamps in his in-laws' home. Also buys a bulldozer on ebay and brings down everything in the home his wife created. The wife is supposed to be a woman who is a kind soul, who looks after special needs children. Hardly someone who might choose to have a chrome and steel home. But the filmmakers consider the audience to be less than smart so they choose to have a glass house. Also because glass breaks spectacularly, yes?
By the time Jake realises how to grieve, we have googled Reign Over Me (Adam Sandler does a better job of showing he cannot grieve and finds an unlikely friend to bond with!), Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close (where a little kid does a better job of reacting to grief) and even Remember Me (the air stewardess who has to chaperone kids whose parents are in the 9/11 tragedy). It's not like grief has be expressed in tears, and no one knows better than the melodrama loving Hindi film audience. It's just that no one goes around destroying property to evince any kind of sympathy from the audience.
Staring into the mirror and discovering you are Jake Gyllenhaal might be intellectual for some, but a pothead who says, 'I'm not sleeping with you because I have a son' make you want to go watch mythological tv shows. They have the universe demolishing idiots in many gory ways.