Verdict: 3 / 5
Jake Gyllenhaal is slowly building up his repertoire as one of the finest actors in Hollywood. However, not even his best efforts can save Demolition, a tedious character study that explores deep questions but is hollow at the core. By being subtle and saying almost nothing, Director Jean-Marc Vallee believes he is saying something profound. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Gyllenhaal plays Davis, a New York investment banker whose life comes out at the seams when his wife, Julia (Heather Lind), dies in a horrific car crash. In the wake of her passing, he begins writing letters to a vending machine customer service woman named Karen and bonds with her gay son, Chris (Judah Lewis). As the days go on, Davis becomes more and more disconnected with reality – unable to show any real emotions or signs of feeling. His father-in-law (Chris Cooper) grows concerned with his unconventional behaviour and soon tension arises.
Demolition is an uninspiring study of grief blended in with darkly comedic overtones. It has the potential to be great but never quite balances the pieces in order to construct something important. Relationships are left unresolved, the narrative is missing key moments and the film ultimately feels incomplete. In the hands of smarter filmmakers we could have had a heart-wrenching film, however, as is, Demolition fails to provoke any real emotion. Instead, we’re kept an arms-length away from the lead.
There is some gold amidst the rubble – the performances are really great and there are a few memorable scenes – but you’ll need to dig deep to find it.