Saturday, 15 December 2018

Grieving process is one way to rebuild

EMOTIONAL, character-driven journeys are director Jean-Marc Vallée’s forte.

EMOTIONAL, character-driven journeys are director Jean-Marc Vallée’s forte.

He will be hoping for another hit, as will his leading man Jack Gyllenhaal, in his latest offering, Demolition.

Vallée has already tasted success in 2014’s tale of discovery Wild, which starred Reese Witherspoon, and the previous year with the excellent Dallas Buyers Club, a biopic of Aids-treatment pioneer Ron Woodroof, played by the hugely watchable Matthew McConaughey.

Key to all of Vallée’s films is a strong central protagonist, or antagonist, and so the question here will be: is Gyllenhaal up to the job? With a CV that boasts the likes of Brokeback Mountain, through to the uncomfortable thriller Nightcrawler, all the signs are good.

In Demolition he plays Davis Mitchell, a successful investment banker, struggling after losing his wife in a tragic car crash. Despite pressure from his father-in-law, Phil (Chris Cooper), to pull himself together, Davis continues to unravel.

What starts as a letter of complaint to a vending machine company turns into a series of letters revealing startling personal admissions.

Davis’s letters catch the attention of customer service rep Karen Mareno (Naomi Watts), and amidst emotional and financial burdens of her own the two form an unlikely connection.

With the help of Karen and her son Chris (Judah Lewis), Davis starts to rebuild, beginning with the demolition of the life he once knew. As with Vallée’s two other films this is likely to be a journey of self-discovery, and a painful one at that. The director doesn’t shy away from exposing the sense of isolation, loss, anger and desperation that his characters experience in the films.

This will no doubt be music to Gyllenhaal’s ears, who for some time has been considered a Hollywood heavyweight.

His diversity has seen him take on a variety of roles since his best supporting actor Oscar nomination 10 years ago for Brokeback Mountain. Let’s just hope that Vallée puts him to good use in Demolition.

The film is showing at Henley’s Regal Picturehouse from today (Friday)

Review: David White

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