163 user 229 critic

Demolition (2015)

2:27 | Trailer
A successful investment banker struggles after losing his wife in a tragic car crash. With the help of a customer service rep and her young son, he starts to rebuild, beginning with the demolition of the life he once knew.


Jean-Marc Vallée


Bryan Sipe
3,593 ( 672)
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Jake Gyllenhaal ... Davis
Naomi Watts ... Karen
Chris Cooper ... Phil
Judah Lewis ... Chris
C.J. Wilson ... Carl
Polly Draper ... Margot
Malachy Cleary ... Davis' Dad
Debra Monk ... Davis' Mom
Heather Lind ... Julia
Wass Stevens ... Jimmy
Blaire Brooks ... Amy
Ben Cole ... Steven
Brendan Dooling ... Todd
James Colby ... John
Alfredo Narciso ... Michael
Learn more

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Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal), a successful private equity fund partner, struggles after losing his wife in a tragic car crash. Despite pressure from his father-in-law, Phil (Chris Cooper), to pull it together, Davis continues to unravel. What starts as a complaint letter to a vending machine company turns into a series of letters revealing startling personal admissions. Davis' letters catch the attention of customer service rep, Karen (Naomi Watts), and, amidst emotional and financial burdens of her own, the two form an unlikely connection. With the help of Karen and her son Chris (Judah Lewis), Davis starts to rebuild, beginning with the demolition of the life he once knew. Written by Fox Searchlight

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


LIFE: Some Disassembly Required.


Action | Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, some sexual references, drug use and disturbing behavior | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The restaurant Davis (Gyllenhall) and Phil (Cooper) get a drink at is Trinity Place Bar & Restaurant, 115 Broadway, NY, NY. A Restaurant & Bar built inside a turn of the century wall street Bank vault commissioned by none other than Andrew Carnegie, advertised as the worlds largest and strongest bank vault in the world in 1904 now a place for social gatherings. See more »


When Davis is in the diner and speaks to Karen while she's in the parking lot smoking pot, he says she's in a Corolla when she is clearly driving a Camry. See more »


Chris: [in his kitchen with sledgehammers] What are you exactly doing?
Davis: I'm taking apart my marriage.
[starts swinging]
See more »

Crazy Credits

At the end of the credits, Davis says: "Warmest regards, Davis C. Mitchell". See more »


Where to Start
Written and Performed by Lou Doillon
Courtesy of Barclay France
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

User Reviews

Judah Lewis
27 December 2019 | by yusufpiskinSee all my reviews

I'm the kind of guy who buries everything deep down. If someone close to me died, you wouldn't know it unless I told you. If I got fired or failed a class, my general demeanor wouldn't change enough to be noticeable. I internalize everything, burying it deep down inside and doing my best to ignore until eventually, it just goes away or the world solves the problem for me. It's a quietly destructive system of dealing with hardships, but from my experience I think I would prefer it to the alternate, more vocal and public approach. People often deem this method unhealthy, something I vehemently disagree with. I'm a put together individual, relatively mature and pretty steadfast in my fundamental beliefs and morality, especially considering I'm 19. Demolition is one of the first films I've seen that seemed to reflect my methods for dealing with stress (on some level anyways) that didn't ultimately indict them. I loved it.

As a film, Demolition is a quiet powerhouse of emotion. Jake Gyllenhaal continues to justify his standing as one of the finest actors working right now, giving a quiet and darkly comedic performance that is absolutely fundamental to the success of the film. Naomi Watts, an incredible actress in her own right, seems a bit off kilter and awkward, but so is the character she is playing so I have no issues with her work here either. Jean-Marc Vallee's direction here is great as well, weaving a sort of confused story together through effective editing and a fundamental loyalty to the subdued mentality of it's protagonist. A quick look at RottenTomatoes and I see that many are calling this a "slog", or a film that doesn't necessarily reflect the tragedy of it's narrative. But Demolition takes place within Gyllenhaal's head, attempting to cinematically represent the process of internalizing grief and strife, which I feel inherently lends itself to a subdued atmosphere.

But the moments that need to land do, mostly consisting of another character desperately trying to salvage any sort of emotional response from Gyllenhaal. I found the film to be profoundly relatable, perhaps the most I've ever seen in it's interpretation of grief and loss. Now let me make a few things clear. I'm 19, so I've never lost a wife, a child or a parent. I've never torn down my house or taken apart my fridge, and I've never really dealt with any stress outside of relationships (romantic and platonic), grandparents passing or dogs dying, school related stress or financial concerns. But stress is relative, and I saw myself in Gyllenhaal's journey. There was no scene with him crying himself to sleep, or breaking down at the deceased's gravestone. No constant screaming, anguish or turmoil. Life went on, and only those around him aroused any emotion following his wife's death.

It's a fundamentally human film, masquerading as an absurdist comedy while dealing with some of life's most confounding scenarios. It's a film that tracks Gyllenhaal's breakdown, bravely painted with humor and melancholy alone. And amidst that insincerity the film finds some beauty in the breakdown, as Gyllenhaal eventually finds his answers within the rubble of his old life. I can sympathize with Demolition's detractors, but personally I found something really beautiful that I hope to cling to and appreciate further as I mature. I found a film that doesn't malign my mentality towards adversity, but rather explores it and tries to understand it. It's a film with sympathy for it's conflicted protagonist, and subsequently I found sympathy for myself in there as well.

A personal favorite.

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Official Sites:

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Release Date:

8 April 2016 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Demolition See more »


Box Office


$10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,100,042, 10 April 2016

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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