I finally watched Donnie Darko on Blu-ray DVD yesterday, and I must say, after seeing the film for the first time, I don’t understand why this is the favorite movie of some of my friends.  I will be discussing plot points next, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet, stop reading now.


I understand the movie is about bending time and how your life flashes before your eyes in your moment of death, but I’m not sure the movie feels fresh enough or smart enough to pull off that grand scheming without being overtly “Twilight Zone” precious.

Perhaps I’m reacting with an eye jaundiced by a 2009 aesthetic and I am applying the now me to a 2001 film — but today, I can still watch “The Red Balloon” and “Citizen Kane” and “Battleship Potemkin” and “Metropolis” and be wowed by the story, the bending of time, and how a life flashes before your eyes.

When I saw Maggie Gyllenhaal in “The Dark Knight,” I didn’t understand the buzz about her being a great actress — (okay, I just looked her up on IMDB and was reminded she starred in “Secretary“… yumma, humma, jamma!) — but after seeing her in Donnie Darko, I fell in love with Maggie and I wholly comprehend why she is special, significant and gorgeous beyond belief on every level.

However, Maggie’s brother Jake cannot carry the movie as Donnie Darko.  He stumbles through the scenes stiff-shouldered and expressionless.  We can understand Donnie is depressed and dark — but that means, as an actor, you have to find curious ways to communicate with us as an audience beyond droopy eyelids and a soft voice.

While I have the just-released special director’s cut edition of Donnie Darko on Blu-ray, I doubt I will ever watch the movie again; and, for some reason, I am already filled with boredom and foreboding as “S. Darko” — the feeble sequel to Donnie Darko — awaits its Blu-ray DVD release on April 28, 2009:

9 Comments

  1. When Elizabeth and I went to see that movie, she said that she had bad dreams about the bunny for two weeks afterward. I always thought it was a brilliant horror film. 🙂

  2. The old lady was a red herring, Anne. She was introduced as a nun that gave up her faith to write a book about science and disbelieving — and then she disappeared! We needed to see her at least one more time to make the whole storyline believable.

  3. That’s true Gordon. Frank’s also dating Donnie’s sister. His eye is healed at the end. He’s one of the “malicious dead” assigned to push Donnie back into the real world to “take the hit” for the rest of the world.
    I much prefer the “blink of an eye” interpretation of the movie, but the director wants the extended Twilight Zone “time tunnel” version to be the final remark on the film. He cheapens his own imagination with his “Director’s Cut.”

  4. I remember my roommate sort of hounding me down to watch this movie and I sidestepped with some hideous excuse like “my friend’s cat is getting married or something…”
    I am glad to know I didn’t miss that much.

  5. Katha —
    You might get a lot out of it as a cultural touchstone. The movie is certainly strange and some of the acting is excellent. I just found the whole premise to be silly. It could have been a classic if the plot were a little better though through. That said, many people stll build their life belief around the ideas expressed in the movie.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.