Posted May 03 2016
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Demolition -This Movie Does Not Rock

Dir: Jean-Marc Valee

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Chris Cooper  Judah Lewis

Jake Gyllenhaal loses his wife in a car accident, and his sense of perspective thereafter. His grief manifests itself by his desire to deconstruct everything in his life (just as it has been deconstructed by her death – in case you can’t join the rather large dots.) This starts with his fridge, but rapidly progresses to taking a sledgehammer to his pristine shiny ultra modern house.

In between, he writes letter to a vending company whose machine took his money at a moment of genuine need and never let him have his peanut M&Ms. Thus the film finds itself with a desperately needed narrative device it seems unable to find anywhere else i.e. we hear his inner monologue to deliver all the Basil Exposition required.

However, it’s not just Gyllenhaal who’s reading his highly explanatory missives. Naomi Watts is said vending machine company’s customer service person who reads his complaints and, rather that refunding his five quarters, decides instead to stalk Gyllenhaal, in between reading in an empty bath tub and smoking pot.

This is a movie that wears its quirks on its sleeve, one in fact, which has so many quirks to wear that there’s barely any sleeve left.

Jake pays some workmen to smash up houses to beat himself up in an almost Fight Club-esque moment. Even Watts’ dope dealer is not just a dope dealer but a guy who restores antique merry-go-rounds. Watts’s son is not just a rebellious teen, he has sexual identity issues and inevitably gets gay-bashed before the final reel. 

Yes, we know the whole thing is a metaphor. And if you didn’t, don’t worry – Gyllenhaal actually tells us in one of his many voice overs. But it’s a depressingly obvious and simplistic one, that quickly becomes tiresome. Ultimately populated by a group of people in all sorts of pain, Demolition never manages to make you care for a single one of them. And by its end seems to offer none of them any real sense of catharsis.

 

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