Although the description and this image posted above gave me pause, I am glad I ignored my premonitions and ended up thoroughly enjoying this movie. Jake Gyllenhaal stars along with an excellent cast that includes Naomi Watt and Chris Cooper among others. The story is of a man who is lost in his career and marriage but whose life is shattered with the sudden death of his wife in a car accident. He is totally thrown and the film follows his attempts to come to terms with his loss and his wasted life by demolishing all the aspects of his life prior to his wife’s death. We follow him as he literally takes apart all his possessions and his job in an attempt to understand his life to that point. His grief and guilt through this process are explored with humour and sensitivity until the resolution at the end. We were treated to a Q and A with the director and some of the cast. Last night, when we saw Hitchcock/Truffaut, the TIFF programmer suggested it was a great film to start with because we would learn so much about directing and the making of film and that it would colour the rest of the week for us. This was certainly borne out with this movie.
One of the aspects of Hitchcock’s style was that he cared nothing for his cast. They were tools to be used to realize his vision of the film. He compelled them to act as he wanted the scene to be done over all their objections. In the Q and A, Vallée was asked how it was that he was able to draw out such great performances from his cast. He, in contrast to Hitchcock, suggested that it was the quality of his stars that made the job so easy. He gave them their freedom and only tweaked scenes to his vision. However his further comment was that the cast were already in sync with his vision so I suspect that Vallée also “used” his cast just not so controlingly. It made one think however about the nature of working creatively with others in a project as complex as a movie.
Another aspect that came out of the Hitchcock film is harder to describe. One theme discussed was the importance of transfer of guilt in the resolution of the plot in some of his films. This is something that comes out very clearly in Demolition and leads to the resolution at the end. Quite striking and I might have missed being conscious of that without having seen Hitchcock/Truffaut.
One final theme from Hitchcock was the notion of suspense and how suspense need not be just about fear but more about anticipation of an emotional resolution. Hitchcock liked to play with this notion of suspense and surprise his audience with an unexpected outcome. Again, Demolition does this very well right up to the final twist scene and the transfer of guilt. So I fear now my entire week will be coloured by the Hitchcock film but that will not be a bad thing just another benefit of taking the time to enjoy TIFF to the fullest.
Go see Demolition when it comes out. I promise you will not be disappointed.