Jake Gyllenhaal, who just so you know, I’ll be calling Jake or Jake G throughout the rest of this review because I’m not typing that name over and over again, stars in this drama about loss and acceptance.
For the record people are calling this his best performance ever, and yet it’s not, if you want to see this man show off his best watch a film called Nightcrawler. It has nothing to do with the X-Men character, which I found out upon going to the press screening, but is a fantastic look at the instant news crews that go through the streets picking at the corpses of the dead and dying. It’s honestly the reason that gave me faith in Jake G’s talent.
Anyway. Here in Demolition Jake G plays an Investment Banker, and he’s good at his job. He’s married to the Daughter of the Boss, but the Boss doesn’t like him, and has a very good life. There is a terrible car accident and his wife dies. Rather than go into a depression like most humans he buys a pack of Peanut M&M’s from a vending machine but the machine won’t give him the candy. In a strange move he starts to write to the complaints department at the vending machine company and gets out his true feelings about his life and his marriage. Through writing these letters we find out that he’s just a shell, and until the accident he didn’t really love his wife. A Customer Service agent at the vending machine company reads the letters and becomes fascinated by him.
This film is about broken people. People are sometimes broken through their entire life and never realise it until life shocks them into realization. Jakes character starts to take everything around him apart to try put it together again, physical and emotional parts of his life are destroyed. He becomes aware of his life and surroundings for the first time ever after losing his wife. The destruction that he is causing is noticed by those around him.
Jake G is good in the role, don’t get me wrong, but he’s done better work. Chris Cooper plays his Boss and Father in Law, who is unsure of him, and after the loss of his Daughter tries to understand what the young man is going through. Cooper is a steady hand at the wheel and even in the smallest of roles can outshine anyone around him. Naomi Watts plays the Customer Service agent who is mesmerized by the letters to her company sent in by Jake G. I understood her character more than any other in this film mainly because I worked a number of Customer Service jobs in my life and was good at them. You’d often get a few customers that were so interesting over the phone or by email that you’d want to know more about them, but I could never do what she does here, but I do understand her motivations.
For me the stand out performance of the film is from Judah Lewis, who plays Watts Son, a young man who gives a mature performance. A teen who is trying to understand himself and his sexuality, more intelligent and honest than those around him. It’s a clever and uplifting performance from one so young and I just wished that there was more of his character in the film. I’m sure we could have sacrificed some of Jake G’s dancing moments for more depth to this young man.
The soundtrack and the general production are good, there is little you can fault in the technical areas of the movie. You feel that the film is building to a Fight Club ending but it’s just another drama ending which lets it down a little. If you are dealing with the true nature of loss, the numbness of feeling, the destruction of a safe way of life, then there is more fallout than shown here. Everything in this film is fine, but it’s just fine, it should have been extraordinary. Fans of Jake G will love it though.
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Writer: Bryan Sipe (screenplay)
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Chris Cooper