Demolition is directed by Jean-Marc Vallée and stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts. The movie is about a banker (Gyllenhaal) whose wife dies in a car accident, then he begins to write a series of letters to a vending machine company, which leads to a relationship between him and the customer service rep (Watts).
This was a movie that I was very excited to see. The trailers for this movie were excellent, and there’s amazing talent both in front and behind the camera. Jake Gyllenhaal is almost guaranteed to be great no matter how good the movie he’s in is, and this film is no different. He is excellent as the lead here, with a very quirky, energetic, and heartfelt performance that was by far and away the best part of this movie. I also like the idea of this film, the idea of a man trying to rebuild his entire life after the death of his wife, and that premise carries the movie for quite a ways. I enjoyed the payoff this movie has, no spoilers of course, as I feel it helps explain some of the most confusing elements of this story. However, I am sad to say that this movie is one big, heaping mess. Jean-Marc Vallée has done terrific work in Wild and Dallas Buyers Club, but he does not do a great job here.
The storyline has some really solid ideas, but it all feels incredibly jumbled and unnecessarily confusing. The basic story is a great one like I’ve said, but these side issues about homosexuality or this weird car following him around feel so forced and, quite frankly, took me completely out of the story. Naomi Watts is a great actress, but she is pretty awful in this movie, but I don’t think it is her fault.
The script by Bryan Sipe (whose only other credit is for the ridiculously bad The Choice) is not a very good one, but it is noticeably bad whenever Watts is on screen. Her increasingly dull dialogue mixed with lines no human would ever say makes Watts completely unappealing, and that makes her relationship with Gyllenhaal’s character feel very forced. Also, the film isn’t all that interesting. Once again, the ideas are there, but the follow-through is mediocre at best, and it made for a less than satisfying time at the theater.
Overall, Demolition has an excellent performance by Jake Gyllenhaal and some great concepts, but the below average script, confusing story elements, and the not-all-that-interesting plot really take away from anything this movie had going for it. It’s sad that a duo between such a good actor and director is such a massive disappointment, but Demolition is just that.