DIRECTOR: Richard Kelly
WRITER: Richard Kelly
CAST: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Moore, Mary McDonnell, Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze, Seth Rogen, Katherine Ross
If you have ever tried to think of a way to describe exactly what constitutes a “cult movie” (not really an easy thing to do) then the film Donnie Darko can offer up at least one viable description. It is a type of film that usually slips under the radar upon its initial release, but its latent appeal is kept alive in a sort of modern day midnight movie circuit by fans and critics who love the film and are prone to giving it multiple viewings and gushing reviews. All of this despite the fact that the movie usually sucks on many levels. One thing I notice about Donnie Darko and its legions of rabid followers is the notion that to appreciate the film one must have at least borderline genius IQ. If one leaves the film confounded and frustrated it is only be cause the viewer does not have the intelligence of a Vulcan to figure it out. Not that anyone has ever really figured it out, but there seems to the idea that film is open to multiple interpretations and all of them can be right, somehow, so long as you are intelligent enough to make a seemingly plausible defense of your interpretation in a film forum. I am posting a piece of trivia here from IMDb that shows actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Seth Rogen (in his first film appearance) have not a clue themselves as to what the film is about, and they friggin' starred in it! It is the center quote and supposedly Gyllenhaal has made similar remarks again in other interviews (which I have not read but read about but unverified here say is good enough for me):
And here I offer a quote from a British fan site about the film that attempts to explain and clarify some aspects of the film:
"Tangent Universe: The PoTT states that time is usually a stable construct but every now and then the fourth dimension gets corrupted. When this happens it creates a TU which is highly unstable and will only last a few weeks before it collapses in upon itself. There is a danger that when the TU collapses it could cause a black hole capable of destroying the PU as well.
This is what happens in the movie, there is a corruption in time and at midnight on October 2nd a TU is created. The next 28 days are now set in this alternate reality. Shortly after the TU starts Frank wakes Donnie up and lures him out of the house. A few minutes later a huge jet engine falls though the rip in time and lands in Donnie's bedroom.
It is important to remember that the TU is NOT created by the jet engine or Frank waking up Donnie. We are already within the TU when both those events occur. Unfortunately we never find out what caused the TU to begin, it's just an unexplained phenomenon."
And you may wonder what the fuck does that mean? I don’t know. Even if you see the movie it still makes no sense. It is as if the story is based on some book that exists in the film (and in some format inside some DVD releases) called the Philosophy of Time Travel that one must read in order to even begin to have a clue as to what is going on. But the website here only obfuscates matters more. And why must we even have to read a manual basically to appreciate a film that is mediocre at best in terms of filmmaking quality.
In short Jake Gyllenhaal (who does a fine acting job again as the cute, boyish type character with more than a smidgen of hostility and danger lurking right under the surface) plays high school student Donnie Darko who seems to be drifting in and out of some sort of randomly recurring time warp or something and he can see his own future, or something again. To make things even more confusing, he is possibly suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. So, is he really in a time portal or tangent or is he just nuts, or is he actually nuts but also in a time portal? Very deep ponderings over this on the net. Deep, too deep for me. Is he alive, or he is dead? Is he merely the product of Frank the Rabbit’s imagination? The movie never tries to fully explain anything and the ending does nothing to resolve anything that came before it. I don’t buy all this deep meaning crap and that it is a high level brainiac film, only for the intellectually elite to mull over. There is so much analysis about the film, tying this scene to that scene and what the vortex near the end means and when it is occurring in the timeline of things and what the chubby Asian/Hipanic girl signifies and who the rabbit is and isn’t and on and on. What it adds up to is that nobody really understands what the fuck the movie is about but they have heard it is a movie for brainy people and since “hey, I am a brainy person” they do not want to tell the emperor he has no clothes and appear dumb and so they join in and make up all sorts of Alice in Wonderland interpretations. Well, I must be pretty dumb. I don’t get it. To be honest, I do not want to get it. The filmmakers do not know how to tell a story and it is not my job as the viewer to just make up stuff to give the film meaning and make myself appear to be brilliant.
I am not saying the film is without merit or to avoid it. On a scale of 1 to 10 I would give it a 6 or so. The acting is good and there are some interesting moments. Here and there. Sometimes. Watching Gyllenhaal almost whack off in front of an elderly Katherine Ross was pretty cool. But I do not like a film that cannot tie all the loose ends together. I do not want to go and read some book written after the film was made that attempts to explain it or visit websites that babble on and on about time portals and black holes and all sorts of garbage that either was barely mentioned in the film or were not mentioned at all. It is all just afterthought and conjectures made up long after the film was released. It is a senseless film story wise but worth a watch for people, like me, who like to just see something that is known as a “cult film” in a bucket list sort of fashion and just get it over with. I finally saw it. I reviewed it. I can move on now.