Friday, March 25, 2011

29/50: Donnie Darko

I have heard many great things about this film. It sort of has become a cult classic among many people, but I never really got around to watching it - and I really had no true interest until I had heard it was so good that I had to at least give it a try.

Donnie Darko stars Jake Gyllenhaal as the titular character. Darko suffers from some sort of mental illness that I don't believe is ever truly said - though it is perceived and mentioned that he may have schizophrenia.

I do not hate Gyllenhaal as an actor, but he has never really jumped off of the screen for me like other actors have. However, in this film he was downright amazing. Probably his best acting performance to date that I have seen.

Anyway, Darko is being led around by what is thought to be a figment of his imagination - that he sees as a very odd and scary looking bunny named Frank. Darko wakes up at night - usually at midnight - and is told by Frank to do random things. During one of these sleepwalking excursions, Darko is able to escape death, which he is then led to believe that Frank saved his life and therefore should listen to whatever Frank tells him to do.

Darko also begins to lash out at school, mostly when it comes to the teachings of Jim Cunningham (Patrick Swayze) who has a sort of infomercial/cult like way to his preachings. He also falls in love with a new girl in school, Gretchen Ross (Jena Malone), who along with her mother has escaped a violent stepfather.

A lot of things begin to happen, and Frank tells Darko to do a lot of bad things - which somehow expose things that many people did not know. It all comes to fruition at the conclusion of the film when everything sort of comes together and is somewhat explained.

There are tons of well-known actors and actresses in this film, including Jake's sister Maggie playing his sister, Elizabeth. Noah Wyle portrays Ken Monnitoff, a science teacher that helps Donnie with the possibility of time travel.

Seth Rogen plays Ricky Danforth, a classmate of Donnie and also a bully, who doesn't appear to have much to do with the actual plot - but does. And finally, Drew Barrymore as Karen Pomeroy, Donnie's English teacher. Her inclusion in the film is still not really understood by me, nor is a few of the other things that go on in the film, but nevertheless I felt she did well in her role.

I did not watch the Director's Cut of the film, so I am not sure if more is explained in that version, but I don't think I totally grasped everything that was meant to be told in the film - and even without knowing that I really enjoyed it.

Like I said, great performance by Gyllenhaal (both of them actually) and I don't think I would have liked it as much if he didn't have a great performance. Also truly enjoyed Jena Malone and Wyle as well - who I am unsure why he doesn't get more film roles.


1 comment:

  1. You had generally the same reaction that I (and probably a lot of others) had to this. You can tell that it's well-made and wonderfully acted, and that the story is interesting, but by the time it all unfolds, you kinda do a double-take and wonder, "WTF just happened? I think I got it, but I also think I totally missed it."

    Multiple viewings are definitely worth your time, but don't necessarily help on that front. I've heard that, either on the commentary or elsewhere, Kelly has more or less admitted to not exactly knowing what the hell it's all about, either...