The music at the beginning of the film is bright and hopeful. It has flutes and strings playing a light, upbeat melody that sounds a little like a lullaby at first. Gardner is shown tucking in his son. Then stockbrokers can be seen mingling with homeless men. Smiling people walk home with their groceries. Gardner takes his son to a white-walled preschool. It looks a little darker from the outside, but the wall is painted in bright colors.
When Gardner tries to sell his scanner to doctor’s, their offices are white?walled and bright. The unpleasantness can be seen in the doctor’s expression, but the whole scene is not painted in dark colors. Gardner’s wife has messy hair and a mean face, but she is pretty otherwise. The darkness is in her emotions, speaking and style. It isn’t done by making her face green or her eyes blood red. The house is a bit messy, but it isn’t unpleasant. The lights are nice and the TV shows Ronald Reagan’s friendly face. He’s speaking a message that is somewhat disappointing, but hopeful. It helps set the scene. Reagan’s message and the Rubik’s cube seem like minor points at first. Tiny scene setters, but both become essential to the plot. Gardner, in fact, gets his first interview by making every side of the Rubiks cube right.
Gardner’s plight isn’t shown by showing him in bar fights or abusive scenes. Instead it is shown by contrasting him with crowds of happy stockbrokers. He is on the outside looking in. Although Gardner’s stress can be seen from time to time when he tells his son to “shut up.” He never goes overboard. He never hurts anyone and never becomes a monster.