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TIFF 2015: Demolition

  January 7th, 2016     Film Reviews, TIFF     0


To celebrate TIFF’s 40th year, artistic director Cameron Bailey selected Jean-Marc Vallée’s latest film Demolition to put an end to terrible movies opening this exhilarating, world-renowned festival.

The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Chris Cooper, and newcomer Judah Lewis, all of whom were in attendance for the screening on September 11. As Vallée introduced his cast, he referred to Demolition as his “most rock ’n’ roll film,” a rather fitting description. It is definitely his most eccentric work, and the numerous rock songs that appear in the soundtrack give some credence to this claim. The film follows Davis Mitchell (Gyllenhaal), an investment banker who loses his wife in a car crash and does not seem to mind very much.

Largely due to an amazing script written by Bryan Sipe, this film is one of the most dark, comedic films I have seen. It goes against the typical conventions of grieving to produce a hilarious effect. While attempting to purchase M&M’s at a hospital vending machine, shortly after learning of his wife’s passing, the bag gets caught. Davis proceeds to write multiple complaint letters to the customer service branch of the vending machine company, which turns out to be a woman (Watts) he finds a deep connection with. The whole film centres on Davis, who is incredibly unaffected by his wife’s death, as he attempts to regain feeling in his life, most hilariously by deconstructing and demolishing various inanimate objects.

Gyllenhaal, who has had quite a fantastic run with his films as of late, is the soul of this film. He puts on an incredibly unique performance, one that is slightly off-putting but still manages to be likeable. His character is not a person that anyone would ordinarily root for, yet Gyllenhaal is so charismatic and has such an onscreen presence that you can’t help but want to watch him.

Regrettably, the cast of characters do not always have much to work with. The film, while wildly entertaining, often feels incredibly overpacked. There are too many stories that Sipe wants to tell for the film’s relatively short 100-minute runtime, leading to some unnecessary storylines and underdeveloped characters, particularly Watts’ character Karen.

A quirky comedy, a dark melodrama, and a tale about finding yourself, Demolition had the audience either roaring with laughter or shedding a few tears. With a wide release in April of 2016, this is a film that will not disappoint.



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