Smashing into theaters this Friday from director Jean-Marc Vallee and Fox Searchlight Pictures comes the swing of a mallet and lots of “Demolition.”
Davis Mitchell (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a man detached from his life. Living on a rinse and repeat schedule, he gets up, helps father-in-law Phil (Chris Cooper) make more money in investment banking, and barely listen to wife Julia (Heather Lind).
When a car crash takes Julia away, Davis takes issue with a vending machine that withheld a bag of paid for M&M’s. Thus begins Davis’ letters to the vending company expressing his displeasure in the whole situation and while writing, the content becomes more personal. The letters reach the vendors customer service person Karen (Naomi Watts) who becomes emotional over the letters.
Karen calls Davis informing him that the letters have been recieved and from that a friendship begins. Karen opens up about her life, relationship and son Chris (Judah Lewis). Every emotion Davis is feeling is finding a different and destructive way out. The only person who isn’t pleased with the behaviors Davis has been exhibiting is Phil.
Sometimes you must take things apart before it all comes together!
Gyllenhaal gives the role of Davis such a big emotional disconnect from the very beginning as a man going through the motions of life and talking the easy way of things. It takes a stuck bag of candy for easy to scatter just like dropping them across the floor. Watching Gyllenhaal embrace it all was seriously refreshing – from dancing crazy in public to speaking the truth about everything. This character does what we all wish we had the ‘craziness within’ to do. He also embraces the truth of Davis which includes the ugly and the unacknowledged parts of one’s life. A brilliant and beautiful performance that I will be thinking about for quite some time.
Watts as Karen is a woman who still doesn’t know what she wants for herself. Settling in her own relationships, the new friendship with Davis is comforting and doesn’t require the added pressure of sex. That doesn’t mean that being a mother is easy as son Chris is making sure that every mistakes she makes is blown up with the added guilt as a cherry on top.
Lewis portays young son Chris who is going through just as much pressure, confusion, and frustration as the adults. Trying to find his place in the madness, Lewis gives this character such depth, the right amount of freedom to explore, and sheer smarts. It is easy to see while Davis/Gyllenhaal truly enjoyed spending time with him.
Cooper as Phil is a grieving father who had issues with Davis for some time. When trying to put together something that would give his life meaning but also learns that secrets can not be hidden for long. Cooper has the amazing ability to mesh anger and sadness together and making his roles memorable.
Other cast include: C.J. Wilson as Carl, Polly Draper as Margot, Wass Stevens as Jimmy, Blaire Brooks as Amy, Ben Cole as Steven, Brendan Dooling as Todd, James Colby as John and Alfredo Narcisco as Michael.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give “Demolition” five tubs of popcorn out of five. Once again Gyllenhaal turns in a performance that was one swing after another. This is a film mixed with shock and awe, giggles and jaw drops, and moments of reflection – not just of the characters but of anyone watching the film.
Yes, this is a film that I’m not going to give away much because I enjoyed discovering it for myself and now I want everyone else to do the same. The film is all Gyllenhaal’s ability to bring out every range of human emotion and even lack of emotion at times. When life unravels there are only so many ways to handle that and the character of Davis takes up every lane of an emotional freeway driving like a madman toward a brick wall and I willingly sat in the passenger seat!
The interaction of Gyllenhaal and young actor Judah Lewis is stunning. There scenes together are direct, no b.s. allowed and a mixture of who is the adult and who is the child! Trust me when I say at one point I think they are both nuts! It is such an enjoyable relationship to watch because of the dimension it adds to an already great story.
In the end — life, some disassembly required!