SXSW Film 2016 Review: DEMOLITION

By Liz Lopez

Rating: B+

Losing a loved one is not easy, and the grieving process is very different for each individual. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as a cocky Wall Streeter, Davis Mitchell, married to Julia (Heather Lind) in his latest film, Demolition. At the beginning of the film, this couple is having what appears to be a very tense and unfriendly ride in to work together one morning. The ride is rerouted to the hospital after they are broadsided on the driver side and Mitchell becomes a widower. The scenes featuring him at the hospital after she is pronounced dead can leave some audiences scratching their head wondering about this young man who does not appear to react to the news in any “expected” manner. Little do they know about the numbness and the actions he is about to take to work through this.

Gyllenhaal excels with his performance in this film as the audience slowly watches him tear and break down everything related to his marriage (and at work) in order to arrive at a point where he can make sense of all that evolves from his search. Directed by Jean-Marc Vallee and based on Bryan Sipe’s screenplay, it is Gyllenhaal’s performance that makes this film worthy of the price of admission.

Chris Cooper portrays Julia’s father, Phil, and he is the boss Davis reports to. It is not long before everyone at the firm questions why Davis is back to work so soon and appears to be losing his marbles. Not only is he at work, he is also writing to the Champion Vending Machines company to sound off about the vending machines and asking for a refund – over and over again. It is not until the company’s customer service rep, Karen Moreno (Naomi Watts), begins to correspond with him that Davis finds someone to open up to about his situation. The bond that they establish comes with a bonus package, a rebellious young teen, Chris (Judah Lewis), who loves music and is not one to follow “the rules” at home or school. The scenes with time Davis and Chris spend together are also some of my favorites, watching them each be in search for something in their lives. Cooper, Watts and Lewis’s supporting performances are also to be noted as outstanding as they form a part of Davis’ journey and he theirs, especially Karen and Chris.

There is plenty of good music in the film, especially when Gyllenhaal dances in the streets among the many pedestrians of Manhattan.

Simply said, I strongly recommend this film with these four principal actors who each have a way of pulling on our heart strings.

With additional cast members, C.J. Wilson, Polly Draper, Malachy Cleary, Debra Monk and Heather Lind

Demolition was the opening film at the Toronto Film Festival last September and had a U. S. premiere in the Headliners category at the SXSW Film Festival last month that I attended and saw Gyllenhaal. The film has an April 8th release, so check your local listings for theater and show times.

MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 101 MIN.

Source: Fox Searchlight Pictures

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