Jake Gyllenhaal stars in this drama about a man who learns how to live again after his wife dies in a car accident.
Jake Gyllenhaal has built a great brand as an actor who does quirky, offbeat movies. And I love that about him. This isn’t just a recent development in his career. It goes all the way back to his early movies like 2001’s “Donnie Darko,” 2005’s “Brokeback Mountain,” 2013’s “Prisoners” and 2014’s “Nightcrawler.”
In a Hollywood world where so many movies are just the same thing, one after the other, we can usually count on Gyllenhaal to give us something different. He continues that path with “Demolition.”
He stars as Davis Mitchell, a man who works for his father-in-law (Chris Cooper) in a financial firm. It’s a pretty run-of-the-mill life that includes a good job, nice house and beautiful wife. But when his wife Julia (Heather Lind) dies in a car accident, Davis is distraught and lost.
In the hospital after she dies, he tries to buy a snack from the hospital vending machine. But the machine steals his money and never delivers the snack. So he sets about writing letters to the manufacturer’s complaint department, and ends up telling his entire life story, including his recent tragedy.
One day he receives a call from the company’s customer service rep, Karen Moreno (Naomi Watts). Davis forms an oddball friendship with her and her son, Chris (Judah Lewis, who delivers a knockout performance). Davis also becomes obsessed with taking things apart, everything from a bathroom stall door at work to his entire house. But can he put his life back together?
“Demolition” is an excellent film, even if about half-way through, you’re wondering where everything is leading and whether we’ll ever get there. The focus here is not the plot so much as it is Gyllenhaal’s unraveling character and the overall moodiness of the film. One thing I didn’t like about the film is director Jean-Marc Vallee’s decision to use hand-held cinematography, which is often shaky and vertigo-inducing. I had to close my eyes a few times.
But who hasn’t felt like demolishing their life at one time or another? I think it’s a story most people can relate to in one way or another, whether you’ve endured a horrible tragedy or are just stuck in a rut. Thanks to an excellent performance by Gyllenhaal and a strong supporting cast, “Demolition” is worth checking out.
PARENT OVERVIEW: “Demolition” includes a deadly car crash, the death of a character, guns and shooting, hand-to-hand fighting with bloody results, and the demolition of an entire house. Strong language includes “f–k,” “s–t” and more. A teen smokes cigarettes, drinks beer and fires a gun. An adult character is a regular pot smoker. Characters make references to sex, and a character is shown naked on the toilet, thought nothing sensitive is shown.
Reel Rating: 4 out of 5 Reels
MPAA Rating: R for language, some sexual references, drug use and disturbing behavior
Released in Theaters: April 8, 2016
Best for Ages: 17+
Runtime: 100 minutes
Directed by: Jean-Marc Vallee
Studio: Fox Searchlight
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper, Naomi Watts, Judah Lewis
JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM:
One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender.
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.
Images in this review used courtesy of the studio and distributor.