“Demolition” Is About Breakdown
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Sometimes life blows up in your face; sometimes you have to demolish the painful structures of your past. Sometimes you do that demolition with alcohol or drugs; sometimes by talking to a shrink. Davis Mitchell did it with a bulldozer.
You see, in the movie “Demolition,” Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal), lost his wife in a car accident and can’t come to terms with this tragic turn in his life. After all, he was an investment banker, made good money, lived in a nice home, had a goo
d-enough life. Didn’t he?
But Davis has to reconcile that life with the loss of his wife.
His wife’s father (Chris Cooper) pushes him to get it together. But he’s unraveling.
It starts with a complaint about a vending machine in the hospital that doesn’t deliver a pack of M&M’s. His complaint letters to the company reveal more about him than he realizes, catching the attention of a customer service rep (Naomi Watts). She decides to investigate. A single mother with her own problems, Karen comes upon Davis as he’s going about disassembling his old life -- tossing out memorabilia, removing furniture, knocking down walls with a sledgehammer, hiring a bulldozer (“You can buy almost anything on eBay…”) to demolish his house.
Only by this demolition can he start to rebuild.
“Demolition” is now playing at Tropic cinema.
Jake Gyllenhaal says, “It’s a story about a guy who begins the movie in a conventional way and ends the movie through an unconventional journey, feeling however he feels, and not how society tells him to feel.”
Director Jean-Marc Vallee (“The Dallas Buyers Club,” “Wild”) points out that grief for these characters comes during everyday moments, and in ironical ways.
“This breakdown moment, where this guy is saying he doesn’t feel anything to this guy on the train, and he becomes emotional when he says it, I liked the contradiction,” Vallee describes a key scene.
Gyllenhaal confides that the director himself was often emotional on the set before urging Gyllenhaal to follow suit with his character.
“Jean-Marc would come up to me before a scene with tears in his eyes, before my character had tears in his eyes,” recounts Gyllenhaal. “And he’d be there right with me, deep in wherever I was, or where he wanted me to go. He’d say, now come join me.”
Making a movie is not easy. Jean-Marc Vallee personally kicked off the demolition work, knocking down walls, busting furniture, to relieve his own stress on the set: “He really looked forward to breaking some windows,” nods Jake Gyllenhaal.