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: