Demolition – the action or process of demolishing or being demolished.
Demolish, he did. Observing the trailer in which you find out that a good looking chap named Davis Mitchell (Jake Gyllenhaal) loses his wife in a tragic accident, there are an infinite number of ways this story line could have played out as. The route Demolition took was the off the beaten trail, the kind of quirky indie film feel where (a grief stricken?) Davis destroys almost everything in his path, all while managing to not get in trouble, and in a way they can get away with only can in cinema. Very literally, Davis becomes one with a bulldozer in his quest to knock down any and everything.
Davis and Julia were in a somewhat loveless marriage. Upon Julia dying, Davis is devoid of any emotion in response to her death. It’s not clear if he was so eccentric before she passed away, but when she’s gone, to say he’s odd is an understatement. When a machine fails to provide him with Peanut M&Ms he ordered, Davis begins writing angry letters that read more like diary entries, to the vending machine company.
After a few awkward encounters with the customer service representative on the other end of those letters (Karen played by Naomi Watts), the two start up a platonic relationship. Soon that is overshadowed by his friendship between her fifteen year old son, Chris (Judah Lewis) and Davis. Fifteen year old Chris who” looks twelve and acts 21”, with his chipped black nail polish and foul mouth, was who I found myself most drawn to. His character was intriguing and I wanted to know more. No one (namely Karen) seemed to find it odd that a grown man that she barely knew, befriended her somewhat troubled teenager, but all three characters were wrapped up in their own worlds.
I imagine it to be quite cathartic, all the smashing and destroying those two go to do. At one point they completely demolish Davis’s beautiful, almost fully glass home. Davis works in finance and of course his father in law is the boss (aren’t they always?). No one quite knows what to do with Davis as he suddenly has an affinity for taking things apart (not putting them back together) that gradually turns into the utter chaos of barely toppled possessions and smashed items.
I personally liked this approach in showcasing grief. Sometimes you just don’t feel anything, albeit Davis’s bout lasted a bit longer than I can imagine the average human’s emptiness lasts. I liked that Naomi wasn’t a love interests forced down our throats. I quite enjoyed the offbeat humor and long moments devoid of dialogue. The audience afterwards seemed to have a general consensus that it should have been sped up a bit but I appreciated the pacing.
Demolition had the beautiful ending that only Hollywood writers could think up. Practically wrapped in a bow of thoughtfulness and contentedness the viewer is left feeling. The takeaway is that all of these characters were flawed, and that’s okay. Sometimes you have to demolish everything around you in order to make something brand new out of its ashes.