Friday, November 18, 2005

"Donnie Darko" review

Donnie Darko (2001)

Directed by Richard Kelly

Writing credits Richard Kelly

Jake Gyllenhaal.... Donnie Darko
Maggie Gyllenhaal.... Elizabeth Darko
Mary McDonnell.... Mrs. Rose Darko

Donnie Darko is a sullen, anti-social teenager. He's in therapy and on medication. He is plagued with visions of death, doomsday predictions and giant talking rabbits. Just like most kids from the 80's. As the New Wave soundtrack blasts in our ears, Darko tries to make sense of it all. Is he a paranoid schizophrenic? Is he a visionary? Will he build a Delorean and go back to the future? Is he just plain nuts?

"Donnie Darko" is very interesting. I think you would have to be a child of the 80's, (which I am), to fully appreciate it. Was the director Donnie Darko back in his teenage years? Did he know a Donnie Darko? This story feels immensely personal. Was he a confused teenager too? It's got Tears for Fears on the soundtrack and "Evil Dead" showing in the movie theater. Time Travel is an important element of this flick. I felt like I had tripped through a wormhole back to private school with Darko."Donnie Darko" is, for the most part, a mystery. Why is Darko being sent all these orders from the Fuzzy Bunny man? Who is Scary Cottontail? What the heck does it all mean? Well, here are my thoughts:

*SPOILER ON ENDING* *DO NOT READ ANY MORE IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THIS MOVIE**LAST CHANCE TO STOP READING*Still with me? OK. Darko is a screwed up teenager. A bright teenager but screwed up. The smart ones know too much for their own good. They get sad pretty easily since they can't see the world as simply as others. "Fear or Love"? So throughout the flick, Darko sees a guy in a rabbit suit telling him to do violently anti-social things. So we start to write these visions off as delusions from a warped mind. But then the concept of time travel is introduced. Could the rabbit be from Darko's future? Is he trying to help him or hurt him? This is (obviously) the mystery to solve.

Darko thinks he knows the exact time he is going to die. The rabbit told him so. Darko is either insane or knows a smart bunny. When Darko has a life or death choice to make, he chooses life. Not his life but everyone else's. When he makes his final choice and jumps through his wormhole, he lands back in his bedroom. He's seen smiling and laughing in his bed. This was the first sign of happiness (relief?) Darko had shown during the entire movie. Maybe Darko wasn't so dark after all. He did some bad bunny things but at the end of his road, he made the right decision.

I can't recall a movie in which a song so perfectly conveyed the meaning of a scene. The song "Mad World" plays over the end of the movie. It explains it all. It's Darko's theme song:

"And I find it kind of funny,

I find it kind of sad,

The dreams in which I'm dying

are the best I've ever had."

SCORE: 3.5 out of 4 Darko bunnies


Proginoskes said...

While there is no rating on this one, I wonder if the good Dr. even knows exactly what the film was about. This movie was NOT about time travel, it was about the creation of a "bubble" universe...for more on this theory read Brian Greene's "The Elegant Universe" or "The Fabric of the Cosmos"...and the implications of finding oneself trapped in said bubble universe and being the only one to be aware of it. This movie is decidedly an analogy for Jesus Christ with Donny being the Christ figure who has been given a choice of living in the Bubble universe he finds himself in at the cost of all humanity or sacrificing himself to save them all. The scenes of Donny talking to the bunny reminded me of the scenes in The Last Temptation of Christ when Christ is talking to the Devil. Deeper than most films of this sort, I consider it a classic.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting you say that. I agree with the "bubble" universe part. But, on the grounds of the rabbit being the devil and Donny being a symbol of christ I would have to say your a bit off. Yes what he did was about the same as jesus in the fact that he died for the people around him to be ok, but just because someone dies for the people around him doesn't mean that he symbolizes christ. I hate how people always jump to that conclusion. But, that's just my opinion

Anonymous said...

Or maybe all of the supposed "mysteries" were a deliberate attempt to make a cult film.

Blake said...

In my opinion, the rabbit is a god metaphor, rather than a symbol for the devil. The rabbit encourages Donnie to save humanity, while stating that if [humanity] were to would be "just you and me." I think there is more evidence for the rabbit as a god figure than as a devil figure.

Justin said...

I agree that "Frank" is a God-like figure to Donnie. I spent a long time trying to figure out how the whole Patrick Swayze character fit into the story. My theory, rather weak, is that Donnie was somewhat skeptical to completely believe in "Frank", so "Frank" encouraged Donnie to stand up to Swayze's character, and eventually burn down his house and by doing so uncovered that Swayze is not the great guy that everyone thought he was. I feel that was really the point where Donnie came to believe "Frank".

Anonymous said...

Guess WHAT!!! You are all right!!! A GREAT movie is one that everybody can take some meaning from, on many different levels. What the movie means to myself, may differ in what it means to another person. This is not to say that the writer & director do or did not have an intended meaning, it is just to say that a GREAT movie should speak to many people on many levels. Just my thought on the subject.

Anonymous said...

yep, its called multiplicity of meaning my friends, apply a lens, synthesize a theory, and boom you just found the correct meaning...along with basically an infinite amount of other correct interpretations.