“Jake Gyllenhaal is in Boston. I know this for a variety of reasons, some of which I am not at liberty to discuss. So I figured that with his new movie opening this weekend, there was a very very slim longshot that he’d show up at the back of the theater for a screening. I took a gamble on the first show at the Common, seeing as how he was there at an advance screening of Nightcrawler back when that came out, and he’s been spotted at various Back Bay locations. Despite the rain and chill, I wore a short skirt in hopes of showing Donnie Darko my Frank tattoo. My heart leapt everytime someone walked into the auditorium. Alas, it was never Jake. Ah well, perhaps the one meeting years ago will be the only one for Dawnie and Donnie.
But what about the movie? In Demolition, Jake stars as Davis, a yuppie investment banker whose just lost his wife. In her death, he realizes that he never really knew her, so he looks to deconstruct his marriage and figure out how he’s supposed to cope with it all. What excited me is that this is directed by Jean-Marc VallÃ©e, who coaxed brilliant performances out of his casts in Dallas Buyers Club and Wild. I really wanted to see what he’d do with my boy.
And on that front, that duo really delivered. Davis was just such an interested character, expertly acted. I was fascinated. Is he a psychopath (in the clinical, lack of emotions sense, not a la Dexter)? Is he on the spectrum? Davis poured out his life story in a series of letters to a customer service rep, and I was enthralled by his narration. He started to literally take things apart, and I wanted to take his brain apart, see what made him tick.
But of course, we can’t just have an interesting character. We have to move the plot along, and that’s where it lost me. He forms a relationship with his customer service rep friend, Naomi Watts’ Karen. It was awkward and weird. I just couldn’t get into it. I liked the letters he’d send her, but their in person interactions were tough to watch. I preferred him solo or the scenes he shared with his father in law, Chris Cooper. Eventually, he starts to bond with Karen’s son, and I started to get more into it, mostly because I thought the kid was an interesting character as well. We didn’t go nearly as deep with him as we could have though.
Yeah so basically, thumbs up for characters and cast. Thumbs down on plot and structure. The former definitely wins out, but the later is kinda frustrating. Yet another recent example of wasted potential. I would love to see Vallee team up with Gyllenhaal again sometime. I think there was gold between them that just needs a better venue to truly shine.
Demolition – \m/ \m/ \m/”