Jake Gyllenhaal is doing the best acting of his career these days. He excels in ‘Demolition’ as Davis Mitchell, an investment banker who takes the tragedy of his wife’s death in a car crash and buries it deep. His boss and father-in-law (Chris Cooper), meanwhile, flashes his grief with every sick scowl. As a study in the way hard men let loved ones go, this movie sits on a sturdy emotional foundation you wish it had been content to explore.
But ‘Demolition’ buries its lead actor under a rubble of clichés, from Davis writing complaint letters about a malfunctioning sweet machine to the vending company, which are answered by a cute single mum (Naomi Watts), to introducing her confused teenage son who desperately needs a father figure. Director Jean-Marc Vallée (‘Dallas Buyers Club’) has a tendency to let his movies become sun-dappled redemption stories – but that’s okay, so long as there’s an awards-worthy central performance holding it all down.