Dallas Buyers Club helmer Jean-Marc Vallée’s latest directorial effort is the Jake Gyllenhaal-lead, grief-stricken dramedy, Demolition, which also co-stars Naomi Watts, Chris Cooper and newbie Judah Lewis.
After Gyllenhaal’s by-the-numbers investment banker Davis loses his wife Julie (Heather Lind) in a car accident, the previously dead-between-the-eyes young hot shot has a grief-induced awakening. With the help of his newly acquired chum Karen (Watts), her confused son Chris (Lewis), and despite pressure from his boss-turned-grieving-father-in-law, Phil (Cooper), he sets about re-evaluating his life, and most importantly, marriage, in a house-wrecking, furniture-destroying fashion.
From Source Code to his criminally overlooked turn as the creepy looking video journalist in Nightcrawler, Gyllenhaal has become one of the most versatile and watchable actors in the game, with his performance in Demolition no different. Vallée’s latest is no subtle demonstration of grief; it’s big, bold and seductively loud.
Some detractors would argue that both its style and tone border on the pretentious. However, despite silly moments which border between the uncomfortable and the outright unnecessary, a strong central performance from the Brokeback Mountain star – and Cooper aiding with a counteractive seriousness – led this film away from the delusional brink.
At times it drifts into areas of absurdity, but Demolition – in its own unconventional way – is a quirky and strangely touching examination of loss, life and marriage.