Davis Mitchell has it all: a high-flying career in investment banking and at home, a great marriage. But when he loses his wife in an automobile accident, his life heads toward a massive downward spiral. Oscar nominee Jake Gyllenhaal takes on the role of Davis in this Fox Searchlight release from a script by Bryan Sipe.
After a period of painful reflection, Davis sets about the process of rebuilding his shattered life. As goes the saying, you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs, and Davis seems hell bent on breaking some eggs by literally demolishing everything about his old life so that he can make a fresh start.
The studio has positioned this feature as a drama/comedy which may strike the movie-going audience as a bit odd, but the premise reflects the two absolutes in the human condition as brought to life in theater wherein both comedy and tragedy exist side by side.
Demolition co-stars Oscar nominee Naomi Watts and Oscar winner Chris Cooper.The film is directed by Jean-Marc Vallee.
Critics seem divided over how well the conceit works. A consensus of reviews on RottenTomatoes awards the film a score of 56. Demolition runs one hour 40 minutes and is rated R.
Jake Gyllenhaal on his character and the film:
“Demolition is about demolishing things that existed before. Things with a history whether it be happy times or painful times. Demolition of a house or a structure, they say, holds all the energy you’ve had, and I think it’s also an inward journey and a metaphor for the demolition that we have and we must go through to change. In this case, the humor comes when demolition becomes literal, you know. That’s the part that I love about this movie. You know, situations occur in life when we grieve and we have to change. And in some ways we know that story. We’ve seen that story. But in this case this character sort of misinterprets it and kind of gets it wrong and so he literally tears down his house and everything around him. And I think that’s funny.
There’s the initial moment for everyone in the audience when they see this movie, when they, you know, cover their mouth and go ‘Oh, God, should I be laughing at this.’ and then all of a sudden as they give in, and then almost in more than half the movie, there’s significant laughter. And I think it’s because there’s a joy in being part of a universal feeling — which is we don’t walk through this world without experiencing loss, and hopefully we don’t walk through this world without experiencing love. I know there are people who haven’t, and Davis at the beginning of the story is potentially someone who could be one of those people. And as a result of taking everything apart, he’s not. He learns how to love.”