Film Review by Clayton Barnett
Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal), a successful investment banker, struggles after losing his wife in a tragic car crash. Despite pressure from his father-in-law, Phil (Chris Cooper), to pull it together, Davis continues to unravel. What starts as a complaint letter to a vending machine company turns into a series of letters revealing startling personal admissions. Davis' letters catch the attention of customer service rep, Karen (Naomi Watts), and, amidst emotional and financial burdens of her own, the two form an unlikely connection. With the help of Karen and her son Chris (Judah Lewis), Davis starts to rebuild, beginning with the demolition of the life he once knew.
Jake Gyllenhaal can do no wrong in my book, and he doesn’t disappoint in Jean-Marc Valle’s Demolition.
Gyllenhaal hasn’t let an Oscar snub for his brilliant turn in Nightcrawler stop him from doing what he does best, playing slightly unhinged of-kilter characters in search of redemption. He was a knockout – and ripped as hell – in boxing movie Southpaw and he leant some star power in a memorable supporting role in Everest. And he always aligns himself with talented directors such as David Fincher, Denis Villeneuve and Duncan Jones.
No surprise he paired up with Oscar-nominated director Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas Buyers Club, Wild) to make this intriguing character study. You can’t help but be captivated by Gyllenhaal as his investment banker’s life unravels.
He’s supported by a great cast too: Naomi Watts makes a welcome return, Chris Cooper is as good as ever, but it’s newcomer Judah Lewis who does an amazing job as Naomi’s confused son. It’s a delicate role, and the scenes featuring himself and Gyllenhaal make the movie.
The story itself gets a little lost and confusing at times, which could be due to the fact this is screenwriter’s Bryan Sipe’s first feature screenplay, though the use of Gyllenhaal’s correspondence with a vending machine company is a great narrative hook. And it’s his performance and compelling composition from Vallee’s regular cinematographer Yves Belanger that keep things interesting.
While the story may be frustrating at times, Jake Gyllenhaal definitely makes up for it with another star turn alongside an impressive young newcomer.
Releases: 21st July 2016
Duration: 99 minutes
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Chris Cooper
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club, Café De Flore)
The screenplay for this film was featured in the 2007 Blacklist; a list of the "most liked" unmade scripts of the year.
Third film to star Jake Gyllenhaal and Chris Cooper, after Jarhead (2005) and October Sky (1999).