Demolition is the story of Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal), a man who grieves the sudden loss of his young wife Julia (Heather Lind) to a car crash. Davis works for his father-in-law Phil (Chris Cooper) and while Phil’s grieving process appears conventional, Davis’s is not. On the night of Julia’s death Davis absurdly writes a letter to a vending machine company complaining that the machine he had used on the night of her death did not deliver the chocolate bar he had paid for. Other strange behaviour follows (pulling a fridge apart, bulldozing his house) as this widower begins to question the meaning of his high-powered job, his marriage and his love for Julia.
As he continues to write letters to the vending company in a referred outlet to his grief, Davis forms a relationship with the customer sales representative Karen (Naomi Watts). Karen lives a tough life, vastly different to Davis’s, and she has a troubled son Chris (Judah Lewis), with whom Davis becomes friends. During the course of the tale Phil emerges, through much heartache, as a gay young man, echoing Davis’s difficult journey to a place where he begins to understand himself and his former marriage.
The acting, especially by Gyllenhaal and Lewis, is very good. The representation of grief in the guise of destruction is an interesting take on this emotion and emphasises that as humans we are not all the same. Demolition has a small cast, however, an aspect I didn’t enjoy as it made some of the film a little dreary.
Demolition opens at Ster Kinekor theatres in South Africa on Friday 22 April 2016.