Demolition Movie Review
Demolition is the new film from Oscar-nominated director, Jean-Marc Vallée. It tells the story of Davis Mitchell (Jake Gyllenhaal), an investment banker, whose wife recently died in a tragic car accident. Instead of mourning her death, Davis questions their relationship. “I don’t think I knew who she was,” he tells an acquaintance. This thought launches Davis into a self-created mission to find out more about his wife and more importantly, himself.
Firstly, I find it quite odd that Demolition comes after Vallée’s incredible film, Wild. The 2014 drama, starring Reese Witherspoon, was an emotionally rich journey of a character trying to find inner peace. It is a nearly perfect character study, displaying a person’s road to self-revelation. So, when the filmmaker returns to tell a very similar story, it’s interesting that it is so unsuccessful in doing the same. Wild is a more complete, efficient work, whereas Demolition feels overfilled. It opens up a lot of storylines, only to never close them or even revisit them.
Gyllenhaal is the reason to see this picture. As per usual, he gives a fantastic performance, losing himself in the role entirely. In a movie which is essentially a man’s journey to feel something, Gyllenhaal can masterfully display the lack of emotion. This is the trait that allows the audience to like him; to really feel for him and hope that he finds his way. It’s also his chemistry with the other actors in the picture. He shares multiple, dynamite scenes with Chris Cooper, who plays his wife’s father. They both mutually dislike one another, yet have this confused sympathy that makes their relationship so dynamic. Naomi Watts plays Karen, a person that Davis becomes close to after the loss of his wife. Their scenes together are also quite impactful.
However, this movie starts so strong that when we reach the relationship between Watts and Gyllenhaal that the film almost loses steam. It’s going in so many different directions, opening one can of worms, and then ignoring them. This feeling doesn’t last long, though, as the movie that becomes about Davis’s relationship with Watts’s son, Chris (Judah Lewis). This part of the picture picks up the pace, as Demolition goes to even weirder places. Simply put, it’s a strange film about strange people. It’s the type of movie people sort of over laugh at because there are scenes that make them uncomfortable.
Overall, Demolition is a solid film with great performances; that happens to leave audiences unsatisfied. For some, it’s the fact that the film doesn’t go in the traditional Hollywood direction, for others it’s because the picture beats us with multiple emotional climaxes. For me, it’s the latter. It almost hits us over the head with melodrama that seems to take away from the original story. However, I think the movie is worth seeing because it doesn’t make for a boring story. Demolition is just one of those movies that should have been great, but from issues with the script, it remains only mediocre.
-By Jacob Tiranno