Demolition

Not rated yet!
Director
Jean-Marc Vallée
Runtime
1 h 41 min
Release Date
6 April 2016
Genres
Comedy, Drama
Overview
An emotionally desperate investment banker finds hope through a woman he meets in Chicago.
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Plugged In1
Focus on the Family



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Demolition
    DramaComedy We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.Movie ReviewWhen well-heeled Wall Street investment banker Davis Mitchell's wife, Julia, is killed in a car accident, almost everyone who knew her weeps. Her parents cry. Her in-laws cry. Davis' administrative assistant cries. Even the man whose car took her life visits her grave and cries. Davis? He sheds no tears. You see, Davis' union with Julia had all the outward trappings of happily ever after. But in their final, fateful conversation while Julia drives, all they can do is argue about the fact that he hasn't fixed their leaking refrigerator even after she's repeatedly asked him to. Davis hasn't cared. He hasn't noticed. In fact, outside of the work he does for father-in-law Phil Eastman's investment firm, Davis hasn't really noticed or fixed anything. Including his malfunctioning marriage. Julia's violent demise, then, has no apparent impact on Davis' life. He gets up at 5:30 the next morning, exercises as he always does, goes to work and casually tells his weepy assistant to reschedule a lunch. But Davis isn't quite … right. Now when certain things don't work as they should—starting with that already fidgety fridge, and then also his computer, a squeaky bathroom stall door at work and even a bathroom light fixture at his in-laws' house—Davis develops an uncontrollable, obsessive compulsion to systematically dismantle the damaged doodad to see what the problem is. And then there's the vile vending machine from which Davis tries to purchase M&M's. When it won't dispense the candy, he writes a letter to the company that operates it, Champion Vending. One letter turns into two. Then three. Then four. Suddenly, Davis is pouring out his heart to, well, he doesn't know who. Until, that is, Champion Vending customer service representative Karen Moreno calls him one night because she's been so moved by his sad story. It turns out that she and her struggling 12-year-old son, Chris, are just about as broken as Davis is. The difference is that Karen and Chris know very well that they're broken, while Davis is still having an awfully hard time admitting that fact—to himself or anyone else.Positive ElementsAn unexpected death can force those who are still living to confront hard realities in their lives. And Demolition tells that kind of story, painting the portrait of a man working through the messy, unpredictable process of coming out of denial and coming to grips with his deep grief over his wife's death and the selfish mistakes he made before her passing. It's pretty clear that Davis, who tells a doctor he's felt numb for years, hasn't paid proper attention to much of anything besides his high-paying job for a long time. After Julia's death, though, he begins to see things more clearly. He beings to pay attention to things he's never really noticed before. Even as this awakening begins, though, Davis can't seem to give himself permission to grieve. Instead, he sublimates his feelings of anger and loss into tearing apart broken stuff. This isn't necessarily a good thing—and it's a habit that quickly morphs from constructive to destructive—but the film seems to suggest it's the only way Davis knows how to begin coping. Near the story's conclusion, he does, in fact, break down in tears, and we know that his newfound ability to finally grieve "normally" is a big breakthrough for him. Along the way, Davis develops a pseudo-romantic relationship with Karen. She's just about as dysfunctional as he is as she strives to raise her troubled boy, Chris, who is still trying to cope with the loss of his father in a bombing in Iraq. So Davis and Karen try, in their own quirky ways, to listen to each other and help each other. And Davis also strikes up an unlikely friendship with Chris, filling a father-like void in the boy's life (even though many of the things they do together aren't wise or healthy, which we'll deal with a bit later). Spiritual ContentDavis has ghostly "encounters" with his wife, sometimes remembering something that happened, sometimes envisioning her in his current reality.Sexual ContentA flashback briefly shows Davis and Julia's first sexual encounter. (We see them from the torso up.) And we eventually learn that she went on to have an affair. Davis and Karen, meanwhile, develop a slow-burning connection that's more emotional than physical. She's clearly hesitant to jeopardize her relationship with her boyfriend, Carl, but it's equally clear that she's shares a spark with Davis that she doesn't with her live-in lover. Karen tells Davis that they can't have sex because it would be too "dangerous." (And, in fact, they don't.) Julia wears a slinky camisole, Karen off-the-shoulder tops and nightshirts that barely cover her backside. Karen puts underwear on under a bathrobe. Davis, for his part, is repeatedly shown from the torso up in the shower, sitting naked on a toilet (from the side) and wearing just underwear in bed. An adolescent boy at a posh party asks if he can feel Karen's breasts. (She says no.) But it's on the subject of Chris' emerging sexuality that we'll spend the rest of this section. He wears scarves, women's animal-print tops and jewelry. And he and Davis wander into a conversation in which Chris asks how he can know if he's gay. Davis asks who he is attracted to, a conversation that leads to Chris graphically confessing a fantasy about performing oral sex on another boy at school. (Elsewhere, we hear another graphic reference to oral sex, this time between two men.) After that, Davis says the best course of action for Chris is to pretend to be straight until he gets through high school, because, Davis suggests, "You're going to get tortured" for coming out. Chris is obviously disappointed that Davis doesn't encourage him to come out as gay, and he dresses up flamboyantly and goes to a party … Recommended ResourceA Chicken's Guide to Talking Turkey With Your Kids About SexKevin LemanEven the bravest parents feel timid about discussing sex with their 8- to 14-year-olds! This resource offers reassuring, humorous, real-life anecdotes along with reliable information to help you with this challenging task.Buy NowViolent Content… where he's beaten very badly and ends up in the hospital. We're inside the car with Davis and Julia when they get hit. Blood is visible on hospital sheets, as well as on Davis' shirt and shoes after he's told that his wife is dead. A man gets pummeled in a fistfight. Davis volunteers with a construction crew that's demolishing a house, and he goes at his sledgehammer work with violent, reckless abandon. He steps on a nail that goes through his foot. He later invites Chris to help him destroy his whole house. They gleefully shatter virtually everything that's glass in the residence, then begin to tear down walls as well. Davis eventually buys a front-end loader on eBay to try to level the place. At one point in this extreme home makeover, Chris asks Davis, "What are we doing again?" To which Davis replies, "We're taking apart my marriage." In the process of tearing down his house, Davis comes across an ultrasound image; his mother-in-law later tells him that the baby's father was Julia's illicit lover, and that she had taken her daughter to get an abortion. Chris blows up a toy tank with fireworks, then uses an aerosol can and a lighter to burn it as he describes to Davis the suicide-bomber attack that killed his father. Much more sobering and scary is a scene in which Davis and Chris go into a forest to shoot pistols. Davis is having a hard time feeling anything, so he puts on a bulletproof vest and invites Chris to shoot at him. The boy does so, twice, with Davis exclaiming each time how great the horrible pain feels. A dream sequence of sorts finds Davis imagining that he's shooting an adolescent at an airport.Crude or Profane LanguageAbout 30 f-words (including one paired with "mother"). Close to a dozen s-words. Anatomical vulgarities used once or twice each include "a--" and "d--k." Jesus' name is abused twice; God's is mashed up with "d--n" three times.Drug and Alcohol ContentAlcohol (wine, beer) gets consumed throughout. And Davis drinks beer with young Chris. Karen repeatedly smokes marijuana she buys from an elderly dealer. (It's implied that she's addicted to it, and she lies about having a prescription for medical marijuana.) Though Chris smokes cigarettes and drinks, he doesn't think much of his mom's marijuana use, interestingly, derisively labeling her a "pothead." A joke is made about someone being a "crackhead."Other Negative ElementsDavis may be a father figure for Chris, but he's hardly a good role model as the two drink, recklessly play with pistols and wantonly destroy a house. In a fit of grief and anger, Phil says it's Davis who should have been killed in the accident, not his beloved daughter. There's talk of vomiting and urination.Conclusion"Julia was a nice girl," Davis tells his father-in-law, "a good person." Then he adds remorsefully, "I didn't know who she was." And it's true: Davis was so numb, so self-absorbed that he never knew who his beautiful bride really was, what made her smile, what made her tick. That numbness initially keeps Davis' grief submerged, but the pain still leaks out, sometimes in the way Davis sees reality. "I'm starting to notice things I never saw before," he writes to Karen in one of his early letters to her company. "Well, maybe I saw them; I just wasn't paying attention." Other times, his torment doesn't leak so much as explode outward in the way that he viciously unleashes his raw emotions upon inanimate objects. There is a lot to like about the way Demolition depicts walking the path of grief as being a messy, unpredictable journey—albeit one that's exaggerated at times here for cinematic and even comedic effect. The film powerfully illustrates that grief isn't a linear, defined process. Rather, that an unexpected loss affects different people in different ways. But that's not the only thing that's messy in this R-rated movie. Asking a 12-year-old to shoot you, for instance, cannot be thought of as clean in any way, shape or form. And clumsily coaching that same boy to simultaneously embrace homosexuality and obscure it—well, that leaves no hope at all of him healthily sorting through his sexual confusion. And it nearly goes without saying that it doesn't point him to a biblical understanding of human sexuality. Then there's all that fixing that Davis does. And by fixing I mean demolishing—in so many more ways than just physical.Pro-social ContentObjectionable ContentSummary AdvisoryPlot SummaryChristian BeliefsOther Belief SystemsAuthority RolesProfanity/ViolenceKissing/Sex/HomosexualityDiscussion TopicsAdditional Comments/NotesEpisode Reviews]]>
    ...
    (Review Source)

Armond White1
The National Review / OUT



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Morale-Busters
    Demolition and Louder than Bombs reinterpret 9/11. The Freedom Tower, built to replace the World Trade Center towers destroyed on 9/11, makes its film debut in two new movies, Demolition and Louder than Bombs. Both titles evoke that world-changing tragedy, and each film deals with the shambles that remain of Americans’ personal lives — the same malaise that has infected our political campaigns. Wall Street lawyer Davis Mitchell (Jake Gyllenhaal) in Demolition and  New York Times war photographer Isabelle Reed (Isabelle Huppert) in Louder than Bombs show how difficult it has been to achieve post–9/11 catharsis. Each character confronts the domestic melodrama of death as an indication of our sunken morale: Mitchell reacts to the loss of his wife in a car crash by obsessively deconstructing or even demolishing material objects as a way of picking apart his dissatisfied life. Reed’s suicide (committed after reporting from Afghanistan) leaves her surviving husband and two sons (Gabriel Byrne, Jesse Eisenberg, and Devin Druid) to pick up the pieces of their shattered family life without a clue as to what might gratify them. Classic melodramas (whether The Best Years of Our Lives, From Here to Eternity, The Godfather, or The Deer Hunter) usually work when audiences identify with characters and follow their dilemmas toward some emotional release. But Demolition and Louder than Bombs operate differently; these two indie art films take a specialized approach to audience identification through stories about the upper middle class. This is not unrelated to the ways politicians pander to “the middle class,” knowing that most Americans embrace that demographic fallacy as an aspirational dream. Sure enough, Mitchell and Reed live in circumstances most Americans would covet — a high-tech suburban home and a fulfilling, well-compensated profession. (“You have everything you want in one place,” Reed tells her anxious husband.) These melodramas do not follow the conceit of insisting that the characters punch a time clock. That’s what gives Mitchell the leisure to pursue his manic hobby as a hardhat demolitionist, and allows Reed’s survivors to take the time off to pursue their panic and self-torment through digital media and extramarital dalliance — just as she had done. The license to pursue one’s angst seems particularly privileged — if not enviable. It’s no coincidence that along with sharing post–9/11 crisis as their subject, Demolition and Louder than Bombs both use fussy narrative tactics — lots of cross-cut editing that mixes time frames, jumping from scene to scene without dramatic conclusions. The point of both films is to replicate the new millennium’s widespread personal fragmentation, and to convey social chaos and misery. And the problem with each film lies in the filmmakers’ accepting that chaos and misery. They intentionally delay catharsis — not just through cold-hearted melodrama but also as a moral and spiritual position. (function($){ var swapArticleBodyPullAd = function() { if ($('body').hasClass('node-type-articles')) { var $pullAd = $('.story-container .pullad').addClass('mobile-position'); if (window.matchMedia("(min-width: 640px)").matches) { if ($pullAd.hasClass('mobile-position')) { $pullAd .addClass('desktop-position') .insertBefore('.article-ad-desktop-position'); } } else { if ($pullAd.hasClass('mobile-position')) { $pullAd .addClass('mobile-position') .insertBefore('.article-ad-mobile-position'); } } } }; $(window).on('resize', function(){ swapArticleBodyPullAd(); }).resize(); })(jQuery); Mitchell, his bereaved in-laws, and the single mother and child (Naomi Watts and Judah Lewis) he befriends are caught up in everyday dissatisfaction, just like Reed’s disoriented and bereft family members. None of these characters know who they are beyond going through formal daily routines. If this millennial zombie status has any basis in truth, that truth is made to seem artificial through glossy, unrealistic presentation. The audience’s identification stops with the very emotional displacement being dramatized. In Demolition, director Jean-Marc Vallée goes for the same slick, scattershot existentialism as in his previous films, The Dallas Buyers Club and Wild. Norwegian director Joachim Trier makes his first American film with Louder than Bombs, but shows off the same morose affectations as in his previous work, Reprise and Oslo, August 31st (a not bad but still lesser update of Louis Malle’s The Fire Within). Both filmmakers, art-movie habitués, are forging styles that are divorced from realism and wedded to a peculiar contemporary sentimentality — the kind of self-serving storytelling you see celebrated at the annual Independent Spirit Awards. (Spotlight, anyone? No thanks.) Neither filmmaker can be accused of suffering from post–9/11 shellshock, but both display something less defensible: a certain class arrogance and social cynicism (to a greater extent in Demolition than in the more detailed Louder than Bombs) of the sort also seen in the 1999 American Beauty – and just about every TV copycat thereafter. Neither movie is as offensive as American Beauty, but they’re just as contrived. Both include at-risk-teen subplots and fantasy sequences with either floating bodies or exaggerated reprisals. As one character says, “Everything has become a metaphor.” It’s unfortunate that Vallee and Trier didn’t learn about millennial angst from Robert Altman’s prophetic, incisive 1993 Short Cuts (where divorcé Peter Gallagher’s living-room demolition scene rendered Vallee’s entire movie redundant). More Movies Mark Ruffalo vs. White ‘Conservative’ Women The Mummy Unwrapped: American Guilt and Masochism There’s Still Life in The Mummy Oddly enough, both these films are essentially literary conceits despite their excessively disconnected, pseudo-cinematic editing patterns. Mitchell narrates: “I’m starting to notice things I never saw before. Maybe I saw them, I just wasn’t paying attention.” One of the multiple voice-overs in Louder than Bombs describes “that strangely familiar smell of damp earth he couldn’t quite place.” It’s as if all these anomic characters emanated from inside the bourgeois bubble of New Yorker fiction — and its political pomposity as well. That two new films should both present characters who remain unconscious of their own bourgeois self-loathing (and barely suppressed contempt for America) is not unrelated to the bourgie political attitude that sees the tragedy of 9/11 only for its impact on ruling-class anxiety. In both films, alienation is linked to 9/11 and the war on terror. Each narrative fragment is expressed through the dislocation of news media, video games, virtual-reality toys, and the distraction of infidelity. So when the Freedom Tower finally appears, it looms in the distance to suggest a character’s stubborn solipsism, not an evolved social consciousness. This is what we get when national morale falls into the hands of politicians, media hucksters, and filmmakers who are over-practiced in escapism and self-deception. The emotional trauma of 9/11 remains unresolved. *      *      * Schubert’s Piano Trio No. 2 in E Flat, Opus 100, was used with memorable stately irony in Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon. Emmanuelle Bercot transforms that irony in the French at-risk-teen movie Standing Tall (La Tête Haute). She takes the idea of a modern social scoundrel, Parisian delinquent Malony (Rod Paradot), and brings in classic, Rousseauvian social virtues to replace the sarcasm of Kubrick’s evil masterpiece. Bercot’s best irony is the film’s fleet, incisive style — not docudrama but emotional precision in the composition, editing, and perfectly pitched humane performances (including Catherine Deneuve and Benoit Magimel at their compassionate best). Seeking redemption for the millennium’s lost generation makes Standing Tall this week’s towering film achievement. — Armond White, a film critic who writes about movies for National Review Online, received the American Book Awards’ Anti-Censorship Award. He is the author of The Resistance: Ten Years of Pop Culture That Shook the World and the forthcoming What We Don’t Talk about When We Talk about the Movies. ]]>
    ...
    (Review Source)

Return of Kings Staff1
Return of Kings



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

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  • Writer. Filmmaker. Lover of cuckoo clocks. Email: harrylimerok @gmail.com.
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