Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper, Naomi Watts, Judah Lewis, CJ Wilson, Polly Draper
Directed By: Jean Marc Vallee
Turns out the films I seem to love the most sometimes are not the ones critics love. I admittedly waited for video with Demolition because of the reviews, and I regret that. I loved it. I would have been fine spending 10 dollars on this in theatres. I thought it was terrific, Jake Gyllenhaal was great in it, and Judah Lewis is a revelation.
Davis (Gyllenhaal) is spiraling out of control following the loss of his wife, in a car crash that killed her but left him without a scratch. He starts taking an interest in taking things apart, at first to try and fix them, but later just to see the insides, and see how things work. He writes a letter to a vending machine company after it takes his money, and ends up corresponding with their customer service rep (Watts), later turning that into a friendly relationship. He even seems to make a difference in her son’s (Lewis) life, as he first seems to be your typical wayward teen, but reveals himself to be so much more.
This is just another fantastic performance from Jake Gyllenhaal, who amazed me last year with Southpaw, and continues to be doing fine, unrecognized work. The real breakthough here is Judah Lewis, a 14 year old actor with a fierce understanding of the craft. At first glance, you think his character is just another brooding one-dimensional teen, but as the film progresses, his character evolves. He puts up anger barriers because he’s hiding who he truly is, and as his relationship with Davis blossoms, he is able to finally be who he knows he is inside. It’s probably one of the best depictions of LGBT youth that I’ve seen in film in a long time, and a truly fearless performance from Lewis.
Cooper and Watts do solid work supporting Lewis and Gyllenhaal, and Jean Marc Vallee (Dallas Buyers Club, Wild) proves yet again he’s one of the finest directors working in Hollywood. I had no problems with the pacing, the writing, the acting, or his directorial choices. Demolition is currently my favorite film of 2016, and I wish it had gotten more serious attention so more people could have seen it, because it won’t be remembered by the Academy, which is a shame if not for Lewis alone. Hopefully we’ll see more of him in the future. I think he’s potentially one of the best child actors ever.
Demolition is now at Redbox. Do yourself a favor, ignore the naysayers and make up your own opinion. I loved it. You might too.
FINAL GRADE: A