Tuesday, 3 May 2016
101 Minutes. Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomie Watts, Judah Lewis & Chris Cooper. Director: Jean-Marc Vallee.
Love breaks! Apparantly everything in this picture. The windows! The walls! The bedside table were all those wedding photos used to be. The kitchen sink! Pop megastar Taylor Swift once wrote 'We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together' about Jake Gyllenhaal...before he became her blank space...apparantly. Well now it's time for Jake to get his 'Wrecking Ball' on like Miley Cyrus (but this time with a bulldozer brought on eBay), really breaking things up. But this time in this movie...it's not an actual break up to put a label on it. To be blunt like Emily, more like a car crash that leaves his wife dead and him without a scratch, but an odd penchant to scrawl down letters more of contemplate than complaint to a vending machine company as he finds his grief caught in one of those metal spirals...and he's not about to buy into anything else to help it come down. B2...his battleship is sunk! That's one way to deal with it. Another is to take apart stuff, see what's there and what you're really made of before you can put it all back together. Or you could just break said stuff. Break it all apart. Smash...no sledgehammer the s### out of it! Because loves great tragedy may have been a forced separation, but it's becoming clear our subject was divorced from his muse wife quite some years into the marriage. Now it really is time to break away as it all comes crumbling down. And there you have 'Demolition'.
BANG! Providing our demolition man Jake with all the tools to work with under deconstruction is demolition expert...or should we say director, Jean-Marc Vallee. As Gyllenhaal buys into the Best Actor and Supporting one Oscar winning 'Dallas Buyers Club' director who turned Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto into the new Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington in a raw, modern day 'Philadelphia', he runs with him through the heart of New York City. From the Freedom Tower to the Springsteen boardwalk heart of Coney Island looking like Asbury Park...real freedom a million Tribeca miles away from the Financial District. Jean-Marc took Reese Witherspoon into the woods. Here he goes 'Wild' with Jake in the concrete jungle, dancing like made dreams to walkman songs like nobodies watching. And it's N.Y.C they're not. Like a sandwich board on the streets said today, 'they're all on their iPhones'...you're on Instagram right?! Millenial generations favourite most liked, Jake Gyllenaal is actually a DiCaprio best actor. He's already made his name and cult legend in the rabbit hole 'Donnie Darko' and the at it like one 'Brokeback Mountain'. But lately, ever since the loneliness arresting, beat down cop he played in 'Prisoners' he's been on a rip roaring tear. From the skin-crawling skinny on psychosis in 'Nightcrawler' to the "BAMF', like smoke, change of direction in the muscle bound, no fat, jacked up 'Southpaw', left hook knockout. And we haven't even begun to talk about other heavy hitters in respective corners like 'Source Code' and 'End Of Watch'. Here with arms length coping strategies, even if some of the contrived cliches are less than Jake, Gyllenhaal grieves with grounded gravity. Just like the conflicting coin sides of character he played in the dynamic double act of 'Enemy' and all its twin ambition, Jake's Davis character is inwardly introspective in trying to find an emotion and purely physical in trying to be more vocal. Sometimes it's O.K. not to talk...or cry. As long as it's no lie. And with an honesty missing in this world (one layered in more missing beauty than boundless brutality today), Gyllenhaal is the truth.
And sometimes that hurts Jack! And boy are there plenty of hurt people in this offbeat drama that only makes divine comedy when tragedy is dark there too. Nobody seems to be as hurting as much as more than character acting legend Chris Cooper, just like when Marvel killed off his Green Goblin, Norman Osborne character early in 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2', only to put his head in a box on ice and in the end not even take it off the shelf. Cooper, who is always acclaimed but here is at his best firing range since he was an employee for 'The Company Men', is a boss stricken and strung out over more than accounts. How can you measure this? He doesn't play a widow. Nor an orphan. As he puts it quite right there isn't a name for what his father without a daughter is...and there really shouldn't be. Portraying the pain of a parent surviving their own child, Chris Cooper is a counsel of catharsis for anyone who comes close. Because with raw respect and unique understanding this actor breathes this role like ashes to dust. To the letter Naomie Watts also energizes this picture even from a place of morose musings, rather than a straight beacon of light. But oh how she shines as a pen pal come no catfish interest of inspiration for our widowed leading man. At her peak here the woman who has played everyone from Princess Diana to the love interest King Kong would climb the Empire State Building for, is the perfect recepitent to Jake's 'Dear Jane' letters that are rooted in just the simple joy and need of companionship than love. Still how about the son? Because Judah Lewis has already read his fair share of scripts, but the kid should have an 'introducing' next to his name here for extra credit...because young Lewis is really showing the world what he's made of. Judah like a lion in lepoard skin suit jackets roars like a young rock star with Jagger swagger. Playing confusion and acceptance with as much wiser than adulting grace as angst like teen spirit. Go forth son, take that baseball bat and knock it out the park. Because like Jake you can swing big and miss big, but one day you'll be up and it'll be your time to hit. It's just another methaphor that life and this movie is full of like ups and downs. After all that's struck out here we are naturally left with a lot of debris in the fallout. But oh what a mess! TIM DAVID HARVEY.