The Details: Top-Shelf Cast in This Dark Comedy

Details

Starring Elizabeth Banks, Laura Linney, Tobey Maguire, Ray Liotta, Kerry Washington, Sam Trammell, Dennis Haysbert, Gary Schwartz, Cathy Vu, and Shanga Parker. Written and directed by Jacob Aaron Estes. 91 minutes.

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Another dark comedy exposing the wormy dirt beneath suburban sod, The Details never lays bare any truths we haven't known since, say, Revolutionary Road — the book. But a gorgeous, pungent shot early on of that sod and those worms and those suburbanites makes clear that even if writer/director Jacob Aaron Estes isn't looking at anything new, he at least has the sharpest of eyes. He has an ear too. As his top-shelf cast, headed by Tobey Maguire, slips into familiar grooves of adultery, lies, blackmail, and pet poisoning, it's the spectacular blow-ups and dressing-downs that make this such a nervy pleasure: First, Maguire, with his signature Sears catalogue blitheness, clashing with Elizabeth Banks, who plays his partner in a long-stale marriage, in a minor squall that with hilarious, out-of-nowhere power kicks up into a hurricane of truths and "fuck you's." Then Maguire versus Ray Liotta, who transcends his tough-guy usual as the husband of a friend (Kerry Washington) with whom Maguire's dope of a doctor protagonist has dallied. Most deliciously, there's Maguire versus the great Laura Linney, here a comic nightmare of a cat-fancying neighbor whose seduction technique — all wild laughs, apple-pie smiles, and inept caresses — might be the funniest thing on screens this fall. As if to justify its own title, The Details is familiar in its plotting but uproarious in its incidents. The lies and threats crackle, the scenes are long and chewy, and Linney goes so far over-the-top she can see your house from up there. Bonus: There are lots of raccoons.

 
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