Saturday, January 15, 2011

Film Review--Donnie Darko




DONNIE DARKO
starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Holmes Osbourne, Jena Malone, Drew Barrymore, Mary McDonnell, Patrick Swayze, Noah Wyle, Seth Rogen, and Bea Arthur as "The Beav."

Donnie (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a troubled young man who is receiving direction and instructions from a giant black bunny that only he can see.  His parents have him in therapy, complete with medication and hypnosis, but things go really up and around the bend when a jet engine falls off of an airliner and smashes through Donnie's bedroom.

I am so glad that I finally got around to seeing this masterpiece of a film.  So many eccentricities are woven together here that I'm surprised it came out of Schlockywood at all.  Normally the best we can hope for are CGI-ed action flicks, empty-headed romantic comedies, and Disney-Pixar bullshit.  I noticed that Drew Barrymore was the executive producer, so I'm thinking many kudos should go to her.  Not just for her performance in the film but for pushing the film industry to take this marvelous chance.
This is truly an existential film and I mean that by strict definition.  Oft times, the term "existential" is applied to anything even remotely weird, but here we are dealing with true philosophical questions of existence.  Does thought precede existence?  How "real" is the bunny?  There are many shades of J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye and Franny and Zooey here as a young adolescent seeks answers to questions that it appears no one else is longing for.  He sees through the phoniness of the adults and peers of his world and feels compelled to act (even if by the bunny) in order to serve justice.  There are explorations of time travel and the theories of Einstein and Hawking.  Additionally, it should also go without saying that the film owes more than a bit to Jimmy Stewart's classic Harvey as well.   I could just go on and on about how much there is to enjoy and recommend here, including notions of heroism and the fact that "I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion," but the dimensions of time and space do not grant me such an opportunity.
To boot, the soundtrack is amazing.  It's as if someone handed the task over to me and I put together a list of my favorite songs from the 1980s, including Echo and the Bunnymen, The Church, Joy Division, and of course Duran Duran.  
Donnie Darko is nothing short of a cinematic triumph.  It's a thinking person's film, the kind that will have you talking and pondering for days afterward.


Oh and mind the gap in my postings as I've been sick.  Suppose I should be thankful.  It allowed me to finally watch the movie.

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