Why critics are so impressed with Jake Gyllenhaal in 'Demolition'

Reviewers are so far impressed with Gyllenhaal's turn in the upcoming film 'Demolition,' in which he plays a banker whose wife recently died. The film co-stars Naomi Watts and Chris Cooper.

Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
Actor Jake Gyllenhaal attends the premiere of 'Southpaw' in New York.

While the movie itself is receiving mixed early reviews, “Demolition” actor Jake Gyllenhaal is receiving praise for his performance in the upcoming film.

“Demolition,” which will come to movie theaters on April 8, tells the story of Davis Mitchell (Mr. Gyllenhaal), a banker whose wife dies in a car crash. It co-stars Naomi Watts, Chris Cooper, and Judah Lewis. 

The film was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival and at the South by Southwest Film Festival, among other events, and so some reviews for the movie have already been released. The film itself has received mixed reviews.

Jordan Mintzer of the Hollywood Reporter writes that the movie is “a rocky but highly enjoyable ride,” but Guardian writer Benjamin Lee called it a “muddled quirkfest … a frustratingly aimless soul-search,” while Variety critic Peter Debruge found the film overall to have a “sledgehammer-obvious screenplay that will stop at nothing to provoke a reaction." 

Almost every critic so far, however, has praise for Gyllenhaal. The film is “another acting triumph” for Gyllenhaal, writes Pete Hammond of Deadline, while Mr. Debruge called Gyllenhaal’s role “his best performance since ‘Brokeback Mountain.’”

The role is the latest in a line of acclaimed performances by Gyllenhaal. The actor also received praise for his work in the 2015 movie “Southpaw,” the 2014 film “Nightcrawler,” and the 2013 movie “Prisoners,” among others. 

Gyllenhaal was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his work in “Brokeback” and was widely viewed as a contender for another nomination for his work on “Nightcrawler,” though he missed the cut. 

Mr. Hammond noted of Gyllenhaal’s performance in “Nightcrawler,” “[Gyllenhaal] has had an increasingly remarkable filmography … impressive, darker movies.”

Some of these projects for which Gyllenhaal is receiving praise may be more under-the-radar releases – the actor’s biggest hit domestically by far is still the 2004 action movie “The Day After Tomorrow,” with films such as “Nightcrawler” having grossed far less. But the actor is being lauded by critics not only for his acting but for the quality of the projects in which he is choosing to participate. 

“Gyllenhaal is one of the most gifted actors of his generation,” Monitor film critic Peter Rainer wrote in a review for "Southpaw." “And, along with Joaquin Phoenix, he takes more chances than just about any of them.”

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