Demolition finds its director returning to the penetrating character focus of his last film, Wild, now turning to the successful company man in a metropolitan law firm who has recently suffered the loss of his wife whilst enduring the same car accident. While Wild was a trek to reanalyse and cleanse the corrupted soul, Demolition is the story of one’s stumbling of extreme clarity and stimulation, where curiosity and deconstruction fuels his perception of the world.
Jean-Marc Vallee taps onto a comedic side of himself as he was creating this, and with it, varying results arouse from it. It is wonderful that Vallee commits further to a comedic aspect in treading this narrative, as the audience would have suffered through a deja vu-like experience with much of its delivery recalling back to his last film. There is without a doubt that this is the most I have been entertained from a Jake Gyllenhaal performance, and that includes his donning of the conniving and determined skin of his character in Nightcrawler.
Unfortunately, even with many of its comedic jabs landing with perfect precision, there is an argument that it intrudes in the dramatic core of this character, drawing the audience in as we are close to gaining some sort of emotional understanding and empathy towards him, but then a resistive force from the comedy arrives, bringing the viewers back to square one in mapping themselves in this character. Also, the film employs moments of flashbacks for the character, seeing visions and recalling memories of his wife, and immediately I noticed a similarity to its use with Spike Jonze’s Her, but here the effect is less impressive, as it lacks that juxtaposition effect that Jonze’s film was able to convey.
Demolition demonstrates the uniqueness of one’s ability to grieve, stimulating the need to reflect and understand their relationship over the years, and with this analytical insight, his body refuses him the satisfaction of expressive melancholy, almost as if he has yet to leave the crash site and is still under shock from the trauma.
It is a film that would undoubtedly earn more clarity upon multiple viewings, as Vallee does not allow it to convey its journey simply, and the eccentricity of his protagonist is a figure to superficially enjoy and absorb in this first viewing, and appreciate further along wit its themes in subsequent visits.