Cinema

Demolition: Bulldozing into catharsis

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Davis is a different sort of a violent man in Demolition. Or he becomes one after the tragic death of his wife in a car accident. In a scene, when he unexpectedly chances upon the man who drove the car that resulted in her death, he doesn't do anything. He is almost sympathetic towards him. In a bizarre twist, contrary to what you would expect in that situation, it’s Davis who seems to be consoling the man and not the other way round. When he gets beaten up by his female friend’s boyfriend, he doesn’t do anything. What he does, however, is break things. It starts with the washroom door of his office. And then he becomes increasingly obsessed with it. He pays a couple of random workers pulling a structure down to let him do their job. Breaking things becomes his catharsis.



Director Jean-Marc Vallee has always made movies about misfits and odd characters: be it his Oscar clincher, Dallas Buyer’s Club or his last film Wild and even his previous works. But Demolition, like the other movies, isn’t just about a misfit but how a bunch of misfits find solace in each other. Much like how Matthew McConaughey’s Roon Woodroof develops a friendship with Jared Leto’s Rayon in Dallas... Davis is not the only misfit here. Enter Jane (Naomi Watts), who Davis doesn’t date or sleep with but does everything else that make it seem so. Jane plays a pot-head single mother who doesn’t really love her boyfriend. And her son Chris (Judah Lewis), who is gradually getting out of her control is not only a teen rocker rebel, he is also probably gay.



Demolition is also a comedy and there are many genuinely funny moments – the initial conversations between Davis and Chris are very entertaining. There is a touch of the absurd that runs through the film. It’s almost unbelievable to be convinced about someone taking his house apart – but maybe that’s how far people are ready to go in order to forget things and redeem. But the metaphor of demolition itself doesn’t go deep enough to make us feel much about it. We appreciate the absurd beauty of it from a distance, but that’s it.



But this visually inventive film moves rather smoothly. It also feels a bit indulgent, but the good kind – that gives us a couple of sexy sequences: including one where Davis dreams of simply walking with his headphones on in a crowded street, while the rest move backwards in time.



And Gyllenhaal is eminently watchable in the classic Gyllenhaal role: a man vastly disconnected from the world, much like his roles in Donnie Darko and Nightcrawler. And a lot of what we experience is how he sees it. When he is demolishing things, most of the times the noise is muted. So that just like Davis, we find it peaceful too.




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Printable version | Nov 26, 2021 4:13:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/Demolition-Bulldozing-into-catharsis/article14226586.ece

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