Dramas are genre that we as an audience enjoy. Most of the time when it is centered on one character and his journey through struggle with the world, they often make up for the best stories. Mostly when the film is focused they make up for the best stories. That cannot be said here for Jean-Marc Vallee's Demolition. One thing you can say about Jean-Marc Vallee is that he can direct films about characters damn near perfectly where you can see their struggle and their very messed up lives. We went from Matthew McConaughey having AIDS in Dallas Buyers Club to Reese Witherspoon hiking through hell in Wild and now we have a heartless Gyllenhaal coping with his wife's death and getting his shit together in Demolition.
Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal), a successful investment banker, struggles after losing his wife in a tragic car crash. Despite pressure from his father-in-law, Phil (Chris Cooper), to pull it together, Davis continues to unravel. What starts as a complaint letter to a vending machine company turns into a series of letters revealing startling personal admissions. Davis' letters catch the attention of customer service rep, Karen (Naomi Watts), and, amidst emotional and financial burdens of her own, the two form an unlikely connection. With the help of Karen and her son Chris (Judah Lewis), Davis starts to rebuild, beginning with the demolition of the life he once knew."
The best thing about the movie for sure is Jake Gyllenhaal as Davis Mitchell. This is really entirely his movie and he carries it all the way through. Besides from the acting and his emotionless emotions its the narration that carries the story. Without his narration you won't know what the hell is really going on in the movie. You genuinely get what Davis is going through and you feel bad for him but with this film you immediately have to get the sense that when people go through bad times they have different reactions and ways to cope that it messes up their mind and heart, so as an audience member its an either or situation where you may get with him but then be on the opposite end where you think he is a total asshole. This movie is genuinely human through the most of it. There are some unforgettable shots that are beautiful to see. The movie in the end is a dramatic comedy. Not much romance as you would think but more of a bonding film. The movie has a lot of funny written lines of dialogue that comes out of left field and gets you laughing hard but at the same time have you thinking. Its not if it goes out of its way to have comedy that is works on shock value but tto Its pretty much the way Davis interacts with the world is hysterical. But when the movie finally finds its footing onto what it is really about when they introduce Karen's son who is nearly as crazy as Davis, so the scenes between the two of them bonding and having deep conversations are heartwarming in a very messed up sorta way.
Though Demolition is a character driven film, the main thing against it is like the central character the film is very unfocused. For a film named Demolition that nearly destroys the film itself, because when you think the movie is about Davis emotionlessly coping over his wife's death it turns into this romance between the him and this customer service representative named Karen. But when you think it's about that it turns into this bonding friend film between Davis and Karen's son Chris. But then when you think it's about that it turns into Davis breaking down his marriage by smashing and dissembling things and by that point you're just screaming "MOVIE MAKE UP YOUR MIND! WHAT ARE YOU ABOUT?!" No doubt about it this film has a great setup, but then it just gets scatterbrained to a point where Davis' narration says something we go into his mind and think what that word means like nearly four different times. Even the tone of the movie is a bit off. At one moment you're gasping at something surprising and then 30 seconds later you're laughing hard only for you to feel bad again Only three or four characters in this film have dimension and are complex, but everybody else is just a cartoon. It's as if they're there to overact or just do reaction shots and it is very continuous whenever Davis says or does something strange. It's not the actors fault entirely its really the script just being sort of all over the place. The movie really drags and feels slow and picks up around the third act but when the film is concluding and you're waiting for a satisfying ending, it cops out which is really disappointing especially coming from a director like Valle.
All in all Demolition's cast and comedic and emotional performances makes it a watchable film though it is as unfocused and scatterbrained as its central character and gets its grounding into consistent storytelling a bit too late.