“Demolition” #ConTENders 2016

I just came out of the Railroad Square Cinema in Waterville for the first time, and I must say the theater is perfect for films like my second #ConTENder of 2016: Demolition.


The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a man who proves time and time again that he is worthy of Oscar gold. Okay, he plays a successful businessman named Davis Mitchell who works for a stockbroker company run by his Father-in-Law “F-I-L” (played by the magnificent Chris Cooper). Davis’ marriage to Julia seems one-sided, that is until she dies from major head trauma due to a car crash.


Don’t worry, this is in the first five minutes of the film and is in no way a real spoiler. No, the spoiler would how the film turns after this event. I remember watching the trailer, but don’t remember anything about it. So I came in fresh; having no clue in which direction the film would lead, and it left me wondering at each turn what would happen next.


I don’t think there’s any other way to really enjoy a film the first time. One can get an enjoyable viewing experience from the comfort of revisiting a favorite film; the quote-alongs, the memories, and the nostalgia can make that return a welcome affair. But in terms of new movies, I’ve grown from wanting to absorb every single facet of a film’s marketing campaign to now withdrawing myself from its clutches.


Now, I truly enjoy going in blind for it gives me a sense of wonder that I haven’t felt since I was a kid. And in Demolition, it gave me insight into myself. Like the film states, everything is a metaphor. Everything Davis had witnessed once his wife died, the little things, that’s my perception of the world, and when I get lost in the mediocrity of the surrounding prison we all confines ourselves to, I lose that sense of observation.


Gyllenhaal nails a man who’s at once broken, yet finding his true self. The dichotomy of these two halves brings me to a realization that I can’t keep doing this to myself; no one should do that to himself or herself. In an era where people can access the inner workings of the collective compendium of human knowledge, we instead worry about those imaginary guards outside of our cells.


Davis does things that most of us are afraid to do: Be honest, make mistakes, analyze the edifice of something he doesn’t understand (whether literally or figuratively), and breaks shit when he feels necessary. To be fair, that last one might not be such a good idea without ironically, a controlled environment.


When Davis hurts, it hurts me, for I see a man in true pain, even when’s he masking it from the people who surround him. That feeling is something the movie-going experience does for us humans. It pulls us in, allows us to empathize with the character, and leaves us self-effacing in our own existence. That’s what the cast and crew of Demolition have effectively given us; a tale of a person who could be someone you know, and I applaud them for that.

And yeah, by reading this, I have taken a small part of that blissful ignorance away from you. But I’ve kept it light and mostly spoiler free because this film is jarringly different, and will cause mental alignments for your life, but I’d like for you to experience that, even if ultimately you don’t enjoy this film. You’re always able to find some movie that can allow you to internalize the lesson being posited. Just be careful from which lesson that you take away. Don’t go losing your fucking mind.


-Jamie (@GuyOnAWire)

Keep up with which films may make my Top 10 of 2016 by clicking here.

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