Demolition

"Extraordinary"

Demolition Review


With its darkly emotive themes and brittle humour, this well-made drama by Jean-marc Vallee (Dallas Buyers Club) isn't quite what it appears to be. It's not, for example, an exploration of grief, although that's in here. And it also isn't meant to be taken literally, because it's more of a parable. The main clue is in the moment when the central character comments that everything in his life seems to be a metaphor. Indeed it is. And this heightened sense of meaning makes the entire film unusually vivid.

The film opens as Wall Street banker Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal) emerges unscratched from a car crash that kills his beautiful wife Julia (Heather Lind). Unable to grieve, he begins to feel like the world around him is shifting inexplicably. So he starts taking things apart to see how they work, or why they don't. Soon he's dismantling his entire house. His father-in-law Phil (Chris Cooper), who is also his boss, becomes increasingly perplexed at Davis' erratic behaviour. And the only person Davis confides in is customer services rep Karen (Naomi Watts) and her confused 15-year-old son Chris (Judah Lewis). As Davis worms his way into their world, he slowly begins to see his own life more clearly.

This is a film about how some people let themselves drift along in the expected ways, never questioning what happens even though it doesn't feel quite right. In Davis' case, his wife's death jolts him awake. He begins to see the real world around him for the first time, including the absurdities of the life he had built around himself. Gyllenhaal invests Davis with remarkable layers of emotion as a generally cheerful guy being pulled apart from within by something he initially can't understand. His reactions to people around him grow increasingly more honest as the film progresses. And by the end, he's defying expectations and conventions in ways that feel shocking but are actually bracingly truthful.

Vallee's direction and Sipe's script sometimes over-egg the symbolism, but they also infuse the film with humour, charm and emotion. This means that Davis' clear-eyed curiosity is thoroughly involving, allowing the film to take an open-hearted approach that never becomes sentimental. Gyllenhaal, Cooper and Watts all invest a terrific range of truthful feelings into their roles, creating characters we recognise as both people around us and as ourselves. But it's newcomer Lewis who steals the show as a teen who's acting out simply because he's not sure what he should be doing with his life. And that's what really touches a nerve.

Rich Cline

Watch the trailer for Demolition:



Demolition

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 100 mins

In Theaters: Friday 8th April 2016

Production compaines: Mr. Mudd Production, Right of Way Films, Black Label Media

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

IMDB: 7.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer: , Russ Smith, Molly Smith, Trent Luckinbill, ,

Starring: as Davis Mitchell, as Phil, as Karen Moreno, as Julia, Judah Lewis as Chris Moreno, C.J. Wilson as Carl, as Margot, Malachy Cleary as Davis' Dad, as Davis' Mom, as Jimmy, Blaire Brooks as Amy, Ben Cole as Steven, as Todd, James Colby as John, Alfredo Narciso as Michael

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