Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Chris Cooper, Heather Lind, Polly Draper, Judah Lewis
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Jean-Marc Valee's startlingly original attempt to deconstruct grief in terms of an individual's unique attempt at catharsis might prove too ingratiating for some but there's simply no doubting the credibility or strength of this effort.
Watch the trailer of 'Demolition'
White collar worker Davis Mitchell's (Jake Gyllenhaal) comfortable life as a Wall Street investment banker stutters to a halt when his wife Julia (Heather Lind) is killed in a car accident while they both were in the midst of an argument. Davis' reflections prove that it wasn't a marriage made in heaven but the loss of security, fractious companionship and reflective self-worth proves very much daunting. Despite the lack of love, he finds the loss traumatic and his only way of coping is by physically deconstructing (even destroying) the familiar, useful technologies that surrounded his life. Eventually he moves into a relationship with a customer service representative for a vending machine company (Naomi Watts) as a result of his multiple complaint letters.
The constructs employed here are neither familiar nor predictable. The shocker opening and the attempt to milk dry the underwritten 'grief' stakes, makes it just a little bit ingratiating. Tears will well up in your eyes as Davis and his father-in-law cum Boss, Phil (Chris Cooper) find contrasting ways to deal with their inner demons. Davis gets back to work right away while Phil stays home-wrecked-with guilt. Davis craves to feel and cannot while Phil is upfront and copious about his lack of coping. The story though is about Davis, largely. He leaves his cushy job and takes temporary shelter in a wrecking crew before stepping on a rusted nail to realize that life has much more on offer. A few more non-stereotypical set-ups later, it's time for cinematic tradition to take charge ..or is it? Will Davis find a good enough reason to rise from the ashes with renewed hope and vigor?
Both the director and Gyllenhaal work hard at keeping things believable and interesting. Gyllenhaal's performance is sincerely involved while Jean-Marc Vallée's narrative takes the unexpected path to evolved and involved recompense. Together they make this event a eminently worthy experience.