Not only was my promise to Jay, based on my previous TIFF experience, that getting tickets to her favourite films would be a cinch with a festival pass a little too optimistic, it turns out picking them up once they’re already paid for can be a nightmare of its own. Jay, Sean, and I stood in three different lines at once (thankfully we had strength in numbers) and barely caught our noon screening of Demolition this afternoon.
From up in the balcony at Roy Thomson Hall, I advised Jay and Sean to learn to love the TIFF commercials at the beginning of the screenings because they’ll be seeing a lot of them. There were more than I remembered it turned out and the woman sitting next to me was already yawning by the time the movie started.
I am happy, even relieved, to report that Demolition, the much-anticipated collaboration between Jake Gyllenhaal and Jean-Marc Valle, was well worth the wait. Jake and co-star Naomi Watts may have been no-shows at the third and final screening but a sure-of-himself Vallee was onstage to introduce and answer questions about the most “rock and roll movie I’ve ever made”.
Gyllenhaal, on a hot streak lately, is never short of compelling as Davis, a successful investment banker who becomes both destructive and self-destructive after the death of his wife. Davis becomes obsessed with taking things apart and discovering how they work. With nothing left to lose, he starts saying what’s on his mind, giving Jake a chance to practice more of that fast-talking and disconnected delivery that worked so well in Nightcrawler. Because Davis, unlike his character in Nightcrawler is anything but a psychopath, he gets a chance to being even more depth to his performance.
Also taking elements that have served him well in the past but taking it much further, Vallee – as pointed out by one member of the audience during the question period- has become an expert at stories of rebuilding and starting over after a tragic loss. The painful and beautiful memories are handled similarly as in last year’s Wild, with the sound and images as fading echoes instead of traditional flashback scenes it works even better here, with the director having a much richer and surprisingly funny- script to work with.
This marks the first time I – usually too excited at a screening – have ever cried at TIFF but Demolition really is that powerful. I’m already emotionally drained with 11 movies left to go.