Jacob Aron EstesThe Details, which I saw this morning, is about things going badly for a Seattle-residing doctor and family man (Tobey Maguire), in part due to his own poor decisions but also because of horrible pre-ordained luck — fate or God or some overpowering force simply being against him. A similar theme drove the Coen brothers’ A Serious Man — God doesn’t care, and He might even be messing with you because He’s a perverse mofo possessed of a sick sense of humor.

Cosmic disfavor is clearly indicated in The Details in the very first scene. Maguire is shown sitting alone in front of an office building during the day when all of a sudden a large piano falls from above, flattening him. We all know what it means when anything falls from the sky in a movie (like the frogs in Paul Thomas Anderson‘s Magnolia) — i.e., someone up there is displeased. So this morning I asked Estes if he could express what his film is saying theologically, in 25 words or less. He said that God isn’t really in his film and that we all create our fate or destiny with our choices and our character. That struck me as blatantly dishonest given his use of the falling piano, but maybe I’m being too strict about this.