Rated 2.0

When his wife dies suddenly, a Wall Street banker (Jake Gyllenhaal) fixates on a defective vending machine, writing complaint letters to the company and venting about more than his lost $1.25; his letters touch the heart of a secretary (Naomi Watts) whose own life is going nowhere. Written by Brian Sipe and directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, the movie pinballs between clichés and quirky off-the-wall twists, and for a while, thanks to strong performances (including Chris Cooper as Gyllenhaal’s father-in-law and Judah Lewis as Watts’ son), it manages to pass for insight. But once our diffident hero begins dismantling and destroying things—smashing his old life to build a new one—we begin to suspect that Sipe and Vallée are selling us a crock of art-house malarkey. That thought, once entertained, won’t go away. J.L.