Movie Review – ‘Demolition’

“Jake Gyllenhaal is phenomenal!… Gyllenhaal and “Demolition” ultimately succeed because they realistically take on the human psyche—with our flaws and all.”

Patrick King, REEL BRIEF

Jake Gyllenhaal as "Davis" in DEMOLITION. Photo Courtesy of Fox Searchlight. © 2016 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

(Jake Gyllenhaal in DEMOLITION. Photo Courtesy of Fox Searchlight. © 2016 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved)

Three-time Academy Award nominated director Jean-Marc Vallee (“Dallas Buyers Club”) introduces us to Davis Mitchell, an investment banker in New York City who we find nearly sleepwalking through life. Oblivious to his innermost surroundings, Mitchell fails to notice what’s going wrong on the home-front, in his marriage and at his workplace until tragedy strikes. Only after he unabashedly attempts to move along too quickly following his wife’s car accident, does Mitchell begin to confront the real reasons behind his lack of attention towards life’s fine print.

Demolition” is a film about one man’s grief. It masterfully projects how others expect and want people to grieve. Director Vallee keenly understands that how one faces distress and emotional life events is personal to each of us. Everyone grieves their own way. Expectations and timelines applied to one may not be of help or use to another. Family members and coworkers wanting to help may only block and stall this healing process.

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Mitchell must understand why his senses missed so many signals before his wife’s death…her note to him left in their refrigerator. Unusual noises and personal conversations. Even physical pain. All missing in action until Mitchell labors through a heartfelt penned complaint letter that turns into two. Then three letters.

Pouring his soul to a stranger through these series of letters, Mitchell begins his grieving process of demolition and destruction—taking apart his previous life. Or most specifically, his previous self, using power tools and a heightened sense of self-awareness.

As the atypical Davis Mitchell, Hollywood heavyweight Jake Gyllenhaal continues his phenomenal acting prowess firmly established in 2014’s “Nightcrawler” and last year’s “Southpaw”. Film veteran Chris Cooper, as Mitchell’s father-in-law and corporate boss, gives his most impressive big screen performance seen in years.

Gyllenhaal and “Demolition” ultimately succeed because they realistically take on the human psyche—with our flaws and all. This film ends honestly with a hand dealt from the deck of life’s cards. It unapologetically leaves Mitchell harboring guilt, remorse and still feeling somewhat broken. And that’s safe, but probably best. For viewers, this movie gives us time to reflect on our journey through life and pay attention to the conversations and people on that ride.

Grade: B

“Demolition” is rated R for language, some sexual references, drug use, and disturbing behavior.  Its running time is 1 hour and 40 minutes.

© 2016, Patrick. All rights reserved.



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