"Incredibly clever and bizarrely brilliant - Gyllenhaal is flawless!"
Demolition is a nifty little film. A film that takes something so simple and turns it into something truly fascinating; resulting in every audience member being able to relate on some level, which is always a plus. From director Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas Buyers Club, Wild), the story follows Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal), an investment banker who is forced to slowly wade through grief, confusion, and misery after the sudden death of his wife Julia (Heather Lind).
Watching Davis’ peanut M&Ms become stuck in a vending machine at the hospital, frustration and irony seep through this sad moment our lead character has experienced. Instead of just letting it go, like we probably all would, or pop another £1 in the machine to try again; after nudging the machine, he decideS to write a complaint letter, which turns into a hilariously twisted form of therapy for him. Customer service rep Karen (Naomi Watts) becomes unhealthy attached to his letters leading to a rather strange, yet enduringly sweet relationship and of course, a much needed outlet for our troubled Davis. Despite the heavy pressure from boss and Father-in-Law Phil (Chris Cooper), Davis firmly latches onto the equally dysfunctional Karen and her eccentric son Chris (Judah Lewis) as a sort of stepping stone to getting over what has happened to him. Just like Karen becomes obsessed with reading Davis’ life story letters, we become infatuated with this broken man.
There’s no doubt about it, Demolition consists of a sparse narrative indeed. A story that without a strong lead could potentially fall flat on its face. Lucky for us Gyllenhaal is a wonder to watch. As he continues to unravel and melt in front of us, not for a second does this actor let us down. At times this is sickeningly sweet, as we are presented with flashbacks of what his late wife used to do for him. Cute and quirky notes are left virtually everywhere he turns, making it all the more difficult to pull himself together.
There is immense satisfaction to be had when watching Gyllenhaal’s Davis take apart and destroy everything in his path in order to overcome his emotional state. Acting as a cathartic release for both us and the characters on screen, Demolition still remains deeply saddening, yet insanely funny and heartwarming on so many levels. Not only are we thrown into this vat of emotion, the filmmakers carefully and subtly touch on Karen’s 15-year-old son’s sexuality, resulting in one hell of a hard scene to watch - but one that is very much needed.
The fact that this man’s chocolate got stuck in a vending machine is negligible. It’s the turning point for him to spiral beautifully out of control and cling onto the last thing that happened before his wife died. Demolition provides us with a deeply moving and insanely funny film that’ll make damn sure you are in tune with your feelings by the end of it.