DEMOLITION Review – Powerful, Moving, Brilliant

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DEMOLITION, from FOX Searchlight Pictures, brings to the screen the story of inarticulate emotion of grief and the many ways grief manifest with the lives of those who, by design are supposed to have it all together.

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper, Naomi Watts and newcomer Judah Lewis. DEMOLITION, also stars Debra Monk, Malachy Cleary and C.J. Wilson, was directed by Jean-Marc Vallee and written by Bryan Sipe.

DEMOLITION, begins in a non-assuming series of the mundane corporate suburban life with voice over by Gyllenhaal, who is a successful Wall Street financial analyst deal maker, Davis. He lives perennially in the zone of life headphone listening to the rhythm of his own music while everyone goes on around him, his wife continues with meaningful conversation to which when filtered through the mental music are meant with the proper response to stop any further action.

A master at this non-conversation conversation by this time, Gyllenhaal/Davis has the routine of a man who married up, the boss’ daughter Julia, played by Heather Lind, who is loved, treasured by her parents Chris Cooper (American Beauty), and Polly Draper.

Driving out to the Hamptons for the weekend, the two, Julia and Davis, are having together time translated, using the four hours or so drive to attempt normalcy, when they are broadsided in a unexpected, stunning, terrifying moment. Life is suddenly severely altered.

T-boned on the driver’s side, the next scenes are in the Emergency Room when Julia’s Dad, Phil played by Chris Copper is explaining she’s dead.

Obviously this is the break in the film, when tragedy takes over and the manifestation of grief, which in reality is an inarticulate emotion as every person, which is also how the script is written, reacts differently.

Handling, going through the motions, dealing, following through on the expectations and business of death become a crux as the relationship between Davis and Phil deteriorates over the course of the film.

The crash and trauma sends Davis to a place he has never been. Played with touches of humor, Davis becomes the conductor of the skewed symphony in his mind that has jumped some notes.

Attempting to purchase M&M’s from the hospital vending machine, the candy gets stuck, and like everyone we all attempt to manage the situation with rocking, tilting, hitting hoping the vibration will loosen our treasure. Well it doesn’t here and to Davis who has just been told his wife is dead and his life shattered, losing the money in the vending machine was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

At this point Naomi Watts who plays Karen, the customer service representative at the vending company and newcomer Judah Lewis, who plays her son Chris, add the unknown variables to the very structured lifestyle of Wall Street executive.

Davis embarks on a letter writing campaign attempting to receive a reimbursement for his loss. The vending company is typical at first, and then as Davis works through his life, issues the letters become more intimate and are read by Karen.

The second act of DEMOLITION centers on the trio, Davis, Karen and Chris as Davis has reached out essentially to all the wrong people, bringing in expendable additions to his life to help him through, without calculation or knowledge that his new found friendships are in reality seasonal.

Life, of course, is not that simple and genuine friendships develop as Davis explains to these outsiders the truth, which he is unable to articulate to those who expected him to tow the company and family line even and especially in the most difficult times.

Throughout all this he is missing appointments, heading to the office in his new found freedom clothes, at all the wrong times and most oddly, attempting to find a fix for everything.

The last home repair Julia asked him to handle before her death, the refrigerator leak, became the catalyst and soon he was trying to fix everything: the door squeaks, he wants to repair it; the neighbor is tearing down his house, he wants to be a part of it; soon his experiments are resulting in larger and larger demolition projects.

Naomi Watts comes in as a lifeline to Davis’ trauma as she struggles with her son, played brilliantly, by Lewis and his life choices. At some point Chris/Lewis is a typical teen and other times he is the product of all the shock wave noise that teens are hit with, then other times coming to grips with himself and of course, as a teen hormone rage shows up and without a real father or father figure Davis become a surrogate as confident, friend, and encourager.

Jean-Marc Vallee’s direction is stunning. He is able to weave this deeply unfair and tragic events into a story that is presented with clarity so the unclear, the muddled, the mind warp that overtakes some in those moments is presented with both humor and heartbreak.

The cast of DEMOLITION, across the board from supporting players, Debra Monk and Heather Lind to newcomer Judah Lewis, who honestly is a scene stealer, brings the stellar points of light even on the fringe or cameos.

DEMOLITION drills down propelling you into this emotional warp zone, where time, words, situations are unbalanced as the nerve endings have been pulled from the right connecting sources leaving the participants to find the way back without direction.

Sudden realization of truth and lies, shock, violence and terror wakes everyone up. Life moves ahead, and sometimes the deck is dealt from the bottom, unfair as it is it happens, and causes a pause. Finally, everyone pushes the play button again and oddly life picks up, not quite where it left off, but picks up again.

DEMOLITION comes full circle and delivers an ending filled with hope and as impressive, compelling, moving and powerful as the beginning.

Judah Lewis hold his own against powerhouse talent Jake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts and is brilliant giving a tour de force performance.

DEMOLITION opens April 8, 2016 in select cities and expands within weeks.

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