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
3,023 ( 162)
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


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.


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?


Third film to star Jake Gyllenhaal and Chris Cooper, after Jarhead (2005) and October Sky (1999). 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 »


Dr. Brodkey: [after running some tests] Davis... not sure how to tell you this. Come on. See for yourself...
[now pointing at screen with other doctor's watching]
Dr. Brodkey: Part of your heart is missing.
Davis: What? How did that happen?
Dr. Brodkey: Judging by the bite pattern, I'd say gypsy moths.
Davis: [suddenly jolts back to reality in the doctor's office]
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


Featured in Half in the Bag: 2016 Movie Catch-up (2016) See more »


La Bohème (Carousel Version)
Arranged, Recorded and Performed by Jean-Phi Goncalves at XS Studios, Montreal, Canada
Assistant Engineered by Manu Alias
See more »

User Reviews

Gyllenhaal is perfect !
8 April 2016 | by geocedSee all my reviews

I went to see this movie without really knowing its pitch or genre. Increasingly, I feel this is the best way to enjoy a feature film, as trailers reveal more and more of the story, going as far as basically spoiling major plot points and leaving nothing to the imagination. A movie trailer should reveal as little as possible but still tease your interest. Good trailers are works of art in their own right : they have their own story and may even use footage that won't appear in the finished movie.

Anyway, all I knew about "Demolition" was that it tells the story of a guy who has to cope with the loss of his wife and, because of that title, I supposed that he was going to loose his mind and that his life was slowly going to spiral out of control. Kind of like 1993's "Falling Down" with Michael Douglas.

While it is true that there is a fair bit of demolition (literally) and quirkiness involved, ultimately this movie is about a man deconstructing his life, demolishing his prejudices in order to find his true self. Once again, Gyllenhaal truly inhabits his character and delivers a remarkable performance, almost as good as his Oscar-worthy role in "Nightcrawler" (which was inexplicably snubbed by the Academy). Gyllenhaal is slowly becoming one of the most talented actors in Hollywood these days! Although the rest of the cast is quite good -- especially the young Judah Lewis -- I'm not sure this film would have worked without him.

All in all, a strange yet interesting film. 7 out of 10.

67 of 86 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 185 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.






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

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed