Saturday, May 6, 2017

Now on HBO: Demolition (2015)

Demolition (2015) - Directed by Jean-Marc Vallee; Written by Bryan Sipe; Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Chris Cooper, Judah Lewis.

By Kenny Howell

It worked once for Jean-Marc Vallee, so why not try it again.

Wild was a pretty successful story about a woman trying to get her life together after going through a tough time. Demolition is also about a man getting back on track after a tragedy, in this case, after the death of his wife. Despite Jake Gyllenhaal (Nocturnal Animals), it doesn't work quite as well.

In response to the horrible death of his wife, Gyllenhaal's Davis moves to deconstructing everything. It starts when he is in the ICU and the vending machine doesn't give him the candy he wanted and paid for. He writes several letters to the complaint department, where he comes in contact with a single mother named Karen, played by Naomi Watts (While We're Young).

He then moves on to taking apart everything in his house, and a few things at his office where he works under his father-in-law, played by Chris Cooper (11.22.63). It obviously gives people the impression that he is crazy, which he sort of is. He continues to work through it, some of it with the help of Karen's troubled son, Chris (Judah Lewis).

I think where Demolition goes wrong is that everything seems forced. The demolition metaphor is a bit heavy handed, and goes on a bit too long. Also, I don't think they did enough with the relationship with Karen, as she isn't too finely drawn. I understand that the son was the real helper along his way, but Karen seems a bit flat. The performances are good, which keeps it above water, but it is a bit forgettable, the type of film Jean Marc-Valle doesn't usually make.

Demolition is now streaming on HBO.

Rating: **

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