Demolition is good enough for most of its runtime, its somewhat flimsy narrative bolstered by yet another great Jake Gyllenhaal performance. As an investment banker whose wife dies in a car crash, Gyllenhaal convincingly navigates the character’s post-accident life, his face a blank slate at one point and a cathartic frenzy at another, his dynamic with Judah Lewis’s Chris enjoyable enough to keep things watchable. Watts is solid, but she plays such a strangely conceived character that I’m not sure why Karen Moreno exists or what to think about her. Nevertheless, there are some interesting ideas in this movie about ennui, adulthood, and grief, and the movie builds up the illusion at first that it wants to explore those ideas in a slightly unconventional manner.
Then, the last twenty to thirty minutes happen, and you become certain that Jean-Marc Vallee and Bryan Sipe are decidedly not the right people to handle these topics. I won’t spoil it in case you find yourself at a screening of this movie and want to see the stupidity play out in front of you, but suffice it to say that it is mildly infuriating. The final act is a heap of forced melodramatic nonsense driven by unnecessary plot twists and writing that ruins what the movie was going for in the preceding 75 minutes, and it’s a shame because those 75 minutes aren’t all that bad. But hahahahahahaha, such a dumb ending.
-You can definitely tell this is a Vallee film based on the editing techniques. Short-lived flashback images are intercut with present day, and there are several sequences that utilize quick cuts to black in succession between images.
-Solid use of music, I will say.
Photo credit: Fox Searchlight, Demolition