Rated: R for language, some sexual references, drug use and disturbing behavior. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: April 8, 2016 Released by: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Jean-Marc Vallee takes on human crisis with less aplomb and appealing results than in his Wild and Dallas Buyers Club.
An ambitious muddle from the Quebec auteur does excel in the casting department to offer some compensation in Demolition filmed mainly in the Brooklyn Coney Island area. As the mood gradually lightens up from an icy cynicism.
Jake Gyllenhaal's successful investment banker Davis is the protagonist who loses his wife Julia (Heather Lind) in a tragic auto accident having little injury himself. Although there is a numbness that's been part of Davis that is evident in his lack of grief.
The screenplay by Bryan Sipe involves a cleansing or creative destruction, if you will, regarding Davis as father-in-law Phil (Chris Cooper) wants him to get a hold of his life. More of a priority is voicing his disapproval about not getting his desired nourishment from a vending machine.
From there some interesting relationships appear nascent for Davis with Naomi Watts's customer service representative and her free-spirited, dissolute son Chris (Judah Lewis). Maybe the more resonant and wry one is with Lewis in a little musical bonding besides having a little odd target practice and not exploring what appears to be an identity crisis the kid is experiencing.
Vallee does get plenty from a determined, if peculiarly repugnant and empathetic Gyllenhaal probably somewhere between Southpaw and Nightcrawler even if the fragmented rendering of the material into a quotidian state does make the payoff more threadbare than expected. A notable contrast on the visual end from the rambling, disingenuous machinations from variegated hues to the more sterile in plush interiors where the titular activities will commence.
A humanistic, convincing viewer portal is through Julia's parents as Cooper and Polly Draper's Margot help mitigate the conniving into standard inclinations with a much welcome secondary plausible thoughtful presence. Too bad the overall obfuscation of Demolition razes questions about what could have been an edgier, epigrammatic melodrama.