Free Press Journal

Movie Review: Demolition – A metaphorical Warning


Cast:Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Chris Cooper, Judah Lewis, Heather Lind
Director:Jean-Marc Vallee
Typecast, Jake Gyllenhaal plays yet again, and fabulously well, a quirky character  who resorts to the titular action when his wife is killed in a car crash.In the happy hunting ground of lawyers and therapists, you’d think bereaved banker Davis would seek succour with a grief counselor or therapist, but no. Or yoga. Music, Meditation. Prayer.Any of the aforementioned would have helped him  cope with grief or anger management  issues. None of these occur to the unfeeling central character who finds some kind of release in destroying things. His own. Literally and figuratively. All this, mind you, when he is blissfully unaware of a tragic twist in his marriage.The late wife (Lind)  who registers a lot in frequent flashbacks, once said he never paid attention. Davis says he did not really know her.
The wreaking spree includes his elegant, minimalistic house. And workspace where he has a top job, thanks to his marriage to the dear departed.Nepotism,he candidly admits, in a voice-over at the start of the film. Well heeled father-in-law (Chris Cooper,intimidating) has had a distinct aversion to Davis which is intensified when he survives the horrific accident and his only child doesn’t. “A man whose wife passes away is called a widower. A child which loses its parents is called an orphan.What do you call someone who loses a child?”
“Demolition” has keen interactions like these; my favourite scene though is the one where Davis tells  customer relations executive Karen’s (Watts) angry young son (Judah Lewis) “If you use the eff word all the time, it loses power.” The exchange (and future interactions) with this strange boy who enjoys cross dressing and has troubles with his sexuality, show he might have made a good father. He also enjoys a lovely relationship with  Karen, which starts off in the most improbable of ways: A string of long, unwarrantedly confessional missives that spark a 2 a.m call from Karen.Implausible, I say.
 Or does that have something to do with the fact that she is, to use her son’s honest-to-goodness description, a pothead. Her “love” interest at work is an aggressive sort. Like rain that falls on all,sparing none, a  great deal of violence is unleashed on the teen boy who can pass off for a girl. Must homophobes express their aversion to LGBT this way on celluloid? Middle America is NOT like this at all.But in this movie, everyone, almost everyone, is weird. An abortion is dismissed in the most callous of terms – a “procedure.” This reel (and real) sanitisation of horrors makes me mad.But not crazy enough to want to demolish it and replace it with something infinitely worse.Like those Infernal Scumbags (IS) want to. And do. Languidly shot with strong performances, Demolition is a metaphorical warning.