Director: Jean-Marc Vallée

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Chris Cooper

Year: 2015

There is absolutely no reason why Demolition shouldn’t be phenomenal.  After all, look at the names attached to it.  And even knowing that you can’t always trust names, look at the damn names attached to it!  Vallee just directed Dallas Buyers Club and Wild, proving that he’s a modern director whose burst onto the scene is no fluke.  Gyllenhaal is coming off of Prisoners, Enemy, Nightcrawler, and Southpaw, inching closer & closer to another Oscar nod, his one & only coming in 2006 for Brokeback Mountain (which, BTW & IMO, should have blown Crash out of the water).  And with Naomi Watts & Chris Cooper rounding out the cast, no excuses are good enough for why this film doesn’t smack us in the mouth with everything we hoped it could.  The sad fact remains, though, that it wasn’t up to snuff, and will leave any audiences still willing to give it a chance wanting their precious time back.

When Davis loses his wife in a car wreck that cruelly leaves him unscathed, his entire world begins to fall apart.  At first, Davis is confused as to why he’s feeling so strangely.  After all, he’s never really loved his wife Julia, not in the way that you read about or assume other people feel.  Davis’ life at Julia’s father’s investment firm is very regulated, very safe, doesn’t hold surprises, so Davis has been under-appreciating every aspect of his life for years; why should his marriage be any different?  But these new & strange emotions won’t disappear, even manifesting themselves in destructive ways, like taking apart random electronics, writing rambling letters to vending machine companies, and slowly dismantling the perfect house Davis has spent countless routine-oriented days in.  An odd relationship with a customer service rep will start him down a new path, one that he’s never really known existed.

Demolition should have worked.  The fact that it didn’t indicates that more than one thing went wrong in the process of trying to bring this story to the screen.  Gyllenhaal was far too distant throughout most of the film, grasping for this character who was stuck inside his own head & couldn’t relate to the real world or real people, but failing to reach it, failing to hook us in the process.  Cooper was fine in a limited role, but Watts was clunky as the pseudo-love interest.  The kid seemed thrown in where he didn’t belong, creating a weird St. Vincent or Wish I Was Here vibe that never worked.  And Vallee directed what amounted to a mess, a confusing conglomerate of pace problems & narrative issues that ended up as disappointing as the movie should have been amazing.  The trailer for this film excited me last year, but the actual product left me feeling cheated.

My rating: ☆ ☆