Jake Gyllenhaal continues his streak of excellent performances in Jean-Marc Vallée‘s Demolition. Gyllenhaal stars as Davis Mitchell, a yuppie financier who loses his wife (Heather Lind) in a tragic car accident. That night at the hospital, a malfunctioning vending machine gives Davis a much needed diversion from his pain. He writes an earnest letter to their customer service department. Davis is unable to cope with the seemingly perfect existence left behind by his wife. He decides to deconstruct everything and takes a wrecking ball to his life.
As Davis embarks on his campaign of destruction, he continues to write letters to customer service. The strange letters catch the attention of Karen (Naomi Watts), a single mother who works for the vending machine company. Davis and Karen become unlikely friends on his quest for healing. He also develops a deep bond with her rambunctious son (Judah Lewis). The results of these odd relationships confound Davis’ father-in-law (Chris Cooper), who feels his daughter’s memory is being dishonored.
Demolition has a dreamlike quality. Director Jean-Marc Vallée makes distinct stylistic choices that add to the stream of consciousness effect. It makes Demolition funny, sad, and off the walls crazy at once. Particularly engrossing is the electric chemistry between Gyllenhaal and Watts. The pair’s relationship is fascinating. It’s more personal and honest than what he had with his deceased wife.
Jake Gyllenhaal was earnest and forthcoming in our interview. He explains how the look and feel of Demolition was very different from the script. The director changed how the wife was portrayed from a voice in his head, to a fleeting character that he could occasionally see. Gyllenhaal also discusses how the intimate on screen bond with Naomi Watts was developed. He had nothing but praise and respect for her skill as an actor.
The actual demolition of Davis Mitchell’s material belongings was the most fun. Gyllenhaal spends a lot of the film smashing expensive things to pieces. He talks about shooting those scenes, and what was the most fun to pulverize. The character of Davis Mitchell was interesting because his reaction to death was so different. Jake Gyllenhaal embraces expression, but would rather be dancing than destroying in real life. Check out our interview below.