Just last year, Jake Gyllenhaal lost his wife and had to try rebuild his life again, in boxing-drama Southpaw. In his latest project, Jean-Marc Vallée's drama Demolition, Gyllenhaal has lost his wife and has to rebuild his life again. The film showed at this year's GFF and here's my review of it.

The film begins with our lead man Davis Mitchell (Jake Gyllenhaal) and his wife Julia (Heather Lind) driving down to Manhattan. However, the pair are involved in a traffic accident and Julia subsequently dies in hospital thereafter. When Davis' life begins to fall apart as a result, it effects his job - he works as an investment banker for his father-in-law Phil (Chris Cooper) - and his psyche and everything to do with his life. When he writes a letter of complaint to a vending company, he begins to get personal and one letter turns to many. Catching the attention of customer service rep Karen (Naomi Watts) who has been dealing with her own troubles, the pair quickly for an odd relationship and, alongside Karen's son Chris (Judah Law), they help Davis rebuild his life, by demolishing his old one first.
Jake Gyllenhaal is one of my favourite actors working today. In recent years, the actor has delivered one stellar performance after another; starred in one great picture after another. From 2014's dark and riveting Nightcrawler to last Summer's emotional and engrossing Southpaw, Gyllenhaal has proven time and time again why he is one of the most talented names of his generation; a tour de force to be reckoned with. So, for that reason, I remained optimistic about Demolition. It's more of an upbeat, quirky film and an atypical role for the actor so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. However, it fills me with great pleasure to say that this film did not disappoint. I never really went in with high expectations in the first place but Demolition is a heartfelt, endearing and fun little picture and one that is thoroughly enjoyable to watch.

For starters, Gyllenhaal is, as always, exceptional in this film. He gives yet another incredible performnace and he brings enough heart and charisma to this very troubled, lost character. As has always been the case with his other projects, Demolition is a character study - of sorts - and really delves into the psyche of Davis and Gyllenhaal embodies him perfectly. We empathise for him and we root for him to succeed, albeit if all for the wrong reasons. Naomi Watts is also great and their is some veritable chemistry between her and Gyllenhaal, their relationship so genuine and tender and sweet. Chris Cooper is great too, as is Judah Lewis. All the acting is great and and easily one of the strongest aspects of this film; our lead pair are wonderful. You can't help but relate to them and just root for them and really connect to their characters, because of how well developed and realised they are.

Demolition is also suprsinfly quite funny too. This could easily be yet another conventional, sombre drama about a guy that loses his wife and has to rebuild his life but director Jean-Marc Valée has put a fun, energetic twist on the material and this is a whimsical, upbeat picture and a very enjoyable and heartwarming endeavour as result. It's tons of watch watching Gyllenhaal and Watts pick up a sledgehammer and totally demolish a house, to unleash their anger. However, it's not all joyful and the film does get serious when it has too. Unfortunately, the two aren't balanced out all that well and the juggling of tone in this movie isn't the best. One moment things are fun and the next, things are serious and, tonally, this is quite an abrupt film which means the impact and the weight of the emotion isn't quite as much as it could be. However, not only is this film tonally convoluted but the narrative - as simple as it may seem - is a little convoluted and can go fairly askew at times too.
Also, as much fun as this film is to watch, and as much as we invest into these characters and enjoy the ride, the ride isn't quite as memorable as it could be. For starters, it's a bit of a cluttered and choppy film, going from one thing to another but it's also fairly conventional and clichéd in its approach. The irony is that Valée tried to keep things atypical by giving the premise a fun twist, but it's still a predictable and conventional film that hits every trope and cliché in the book, regardless. It's a very formulaic romantic dramedy and is methodical in its approach; a boil in the bag love story. That's not to say it's not entertaining because it's a good film, nonetheless, but it isn't quite as inspired or profound as it could have been and, ultimately, is good whilst it lasts but is fairly forgettable and disposable when the credits start rolling.

In the end, Demolition is a fun, competent and enjoyable film for what it is. It's by no means a resonating, thought-provoking masterpiece or as accomplished as some of Valée's other pictures but it's certainly a good time at the cinemas guaranteed. The directing is slick and it's a stylishly shot film that looks crisp and sleek and it's well-made and well-acted; it's witty and endearing and will make you smile throughout but it's all a little too contrived, conventional and convoluted to make it worth remembering. If you're a fan of the cast or just of decent, fun, harmless cinema then it's worth giving a watch though.


Jean-Marc Valée's Demolition is a conventional and tonally convoluted drama but one that is quirky, energetic and tons of fun, nonetheless, with another stunning performance from Gyllenhaal.

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About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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