Verdict: 3 / 5
Demolition is an almost humorous demonstration of the shuddering realisation of one’s own numbness.
In the midst of habitually repeating what his wife says, as a means to pretend like he’s listening, the car crashes. “She’s gone” and a small blotch of blood indicates that he is now widowed. Dazed, Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal) attempts to free the stuck packet of M&M’s from a vending machine. In what starts as a standard complaint letter to claim a refund from the vending machine company develops into a series of deeply personal letters as he discovers his inability to deal with the loss of his wife.
These letters stir curiosity and concern in the company’s customer service representative – Karen (Naomi Watts ). As to be expected, an unlikely friendship is formed, more so with her troubled teenage son – Carl (Judah Lewis).
The film casually showcases the awakening of Davis. Sure, the physical demolition caused by his hands is a bit on the nose as to being a metaphor for his emotional destruction, but people do this. Sometimes the best way to deal with trauma is to hack your way through (preferably not a very expensive cappuccino machine). And often there is no climax, no horrific over the top ending – maybe this is what many viewers anticipate would happen, but it doesn’t. And this makes it more realistic. The audience isn’t manipulated to feel anything, in contrast the viewer is made somewhat numb while Davis allows himself to truly feel.
Other than that, nothing really happens. The script is very predictable, stereotyped and bland, but in all honesty it is still enjoyable. One could easily credit this to the skilful cast and editing. Gyllenhaal and ensemble effortlessly hold your gaze. The only mystery is who or why the station wagon is following him…