Demolition switches the narrative style up several times often treading a line between magic realism and psychic melodrama. In doing so it achieves a compelling emotional resonance in this refreshing take on grief and inner imbalance. 3.5 stars
It wants to be so many different things at once. And yet, it succeeds, against all odds. Source Code, As The Nightcrawler, Enemy and now Demolition clearly demonstrate, Jake Gyllenhaal is one of the most unique, eclectic, and talented American actors.
An ambitious script by Bryan Sipe, sharp direction by Vallee and another riveting turn by Jake Gyllenhaal make this a must see. A man deals with an inner hollowness after the death of his wife and attempts to find meaning through bureaucratic correspondence, physical work and a burgeoning but not sexual relationship with a woman and her son. Somewhat contrived and unrealistic but involving and moving despite that.
It's not easy to make a film about feeling, and even if Demolition's third act collapses under the weight of Hollywood's formula, that's exactly what we got. And thanks to yet another wonderfully nuanced performance by Gyllenhaal, Vallée's film provides for quite an emotionally rewarding ride.
Jean-Marc Vallée seems to make movies for people who want to try to dabble into indie cinema, but don't necessarily want a film that is so impressionistic, or even so wrought with emotion. Demolition is solid, but it feels like a dog on a chain, fighting to go further than its screenwriting allows. Even if you condemn it, and I'm sure many will, at least praise Gyllenhaal, who seems to be playing Louis Bloom 2.0 here
Parts of it work well as a muted exploration of grief, but the consequence-less emotional detachment started feeling really dry after a while and as the guy got more gleeful, I started to suspect he was, in fact, a psycho. The performances are all well worth watching and there's an interesting (but slight) surrealist vibe, so I quite liked it in the end even though I had different expectations.