Review by Justin Waldman for Mr. Will Wong
Jean-Marc Vallée is one of the finest directors to have emerged in recent years, hitting a sweet spot in his career with greats such as Dallas Buyers Club and Wild, both incredible character studies that transport the audience into the lives of their subjects themselves. Last year’s Toronto International Film Festival Opening Night Gala, Demolition, is no different as it is arguably one of the best character studies Vallée has released. However, a Movie is only as strong as its cast and with the incredibly talented Jake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts front and center, the Movie exceeds all expectations.
Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a rather simple man who happens to be an investment banker that seems to be more involved in work than life itself. We see this as he is having a conversation with his wife Julia (Heather Lind) or rather she is talking to him and he is just dazed while thinking about work. Sadly after this conversation, there is a horrific car accident that Davis manages to survive and Julia does not. While at the hospital, Davis tries to purchase a bag of peanut M&Ms from a vending machine and alas the machine eats his money and does not deliver his purchase. Davis takes down the information from the vending machine calmly, following-up with the company to receive a refund for his dollar and twenty five cents. This is where he corresponds with Karen (Naomi Watts) with whom he develops a weird and fascinating and unlikely connection.
Demolition relies heavily on its characters and their relations. Thankfully, both Gyllenhaal and Watts are both exceptional here. Gyllenhaal embodies Davis’ pain and self-destruction and we feel great compassion for him. Similarly Watts grows empathetic to Davis and we see him through her eyes also. What makes Demolition such a great Film is that both characters are incredibly humanistic and if anything is to be learned about this study about loss it is that there is no real right or wrong way to cope.
Demolition perhaps is Vallée‘s best Film yet. VVS Films release DEMOLITION in theatres on Friday, April 8, 2016.