Saturday, April 9, 2016

Demolition (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway


Jean Marc-Vallee (Dallas Buyers Club) attempts another psychological portrait with the self-consciously titled film "Demolition," about a man (Jake Gyllenhaal) who gets catharsis from ---no surprise here---demolishing big things.

Gyllenhaal plays investment banker Davis Mitchell, who is jaded and stuck in neutral. He is living comfortably in the Big Apple with his attractive wife Julia (Heather Lind) and things are moving on cruise control. One day, the couple drives along in the car and Davis is side-swiped.
Julia dies while he walks away without a scratch.His father-in-law (Chris Cooper ) hates him, but he always has. A curious sensation comes over Davis. He feels nothing about Julia or the accident. Huge skyscrapers hover him like giant metallic birds. Such a sight brings only a poker face with Davis exchanging the barest of pleasantries to his team. During a hospital vigil, he gets cheated by a vending machine and begins to write letters to the company.

His passivity remains unchanged with the exception of 70s rock music, which unleashes Davis's spontaneous and unbridled inner nature, unkempt and anarchistic. Davis starts to become obsessed with disassembling appliances and then smashing smashing them, a bit like The Hulk. This is the most provocative aspect of the film as it is fun to watch the monosylabbic businessman let loose and become almost simian in his movements, hanging from the ceiling, swinging sledgehammers. He yells, roars and gambols about chimp-like. This is De-evolution. Say what you might about the film as a whole, but Gyllenhaal wonderfully forgets himself in these segments.

Davis meets Karen, a service rep from the vending machine company (Noami Watts) and the two start a friendship. Karen has a foul-mouthed kid named Chris (Judah Lewis ) who likes to experiment with his image and an abusive boyfriend.

While the savage impulses expressed by Jake Gyllenhaal sizzle with great charge, the other sections of the film flatten out in standard drama. The kid is bullied, Karen is scared. The father-in-law is nasty. The story does not progress. One also knows precious little about the secondary characters. Who was Julia and what is Karen really like? Except for a few bare scenes, very little is expressed. The parental discontent and the melancholy by all, makes this beautifully shot film feel like a TV movie.

Sketchy melodrama is all one finds. There is a wonder and a terrific letting go in Gyllenhaal's poundings and pummellings. Such voltage is similar to Reese Witherspoon in "Wild" : a transformed and transforming woman who becomes Nature in order to achieve her goal.

"Demolition," by contrast, ultimately creates the most casual of disorders on-screen. It is a crackle rather than a boom and the story begs for refreshing potency.

Write Ian at

No comments: