Saturday, August 1, 2009

Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko; Horror drama, USA, 2001; D: Richard Kelly, S: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Mary McDonnell, Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze, Maggie Gyllenhaal

2 October 1988. Donnie Darko is a troublesome but normal teenager, until one day he has a vision of a man in a grotesque bunny costume who advises him to leave his house for that night and that in 28 days the world will end. Donnie sleeps that night over at a golf field and when he returns home, he discovers a giant jet engine fell on his room and he survived only thanks to the warning. He then starts a relationship with Gretchen and puts motivational guru Jim's house on fire, where people find hidden child pornography. Gretchen gets ran over by lad Frank, wearing a bunny costume for Halloween, and Donnie thus kills him in an act of rage. Donnie then returns back to the past, to 2 October 1988, to die in his room when the engine falls.

Bizarre horro drama "Donnie Darko" is one of the most popular cult movies of the 2000s, an unusual blend of "Back to the Future" and "Mulholand Drive", yet its reputation is still rather overrated. Director Richard Kelly gains positive points on "daft" mood and dark style, yet loses when tackling with forced-pretentious characters, too "hard" Sci-Fi story and lack of a sixth sense for teenage relationships. The whole story can be interpreted as a turbulent time of the title protagonist going through the confusing time of adolescence, while some details are thus rather clever (i.e. after Donnie rammed an axe into the school statue and wrote "They made me do it" on the floor, the police wants to find the perpetrator by the signature and thus orders every student to write that sentence on the blackboard) whereas the mysterious ending stimulates the viewer to think: did the hero, thanks to the "bunny", found himself in a parallel Universe, separated from the real one, which could be destroyed due to instability, or was he just simply going steadily insane? Some of the bizarre scenes do "click", yet some are also just there without a reason, and claiming its brilliant just because you don't understand it isn't quite consistent. "Darko" is a good film, with a honorary role for 80s star Patrick Swayze, but there are thousands of good films, whereas the real masterworks about growing up, like "The Graduate", are scarce.


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