Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko ★★★★★

Guys, I gotta admit something.

Sometimes I don't see the point in film anymore. This is pretty fucked up considering film is not only something I've loved since I was a child, but something I've pursued a career in. Over the years, it's started to seem like a futile exercise. Sure we can be moved by films. They can transmit vital ideas and pass down lessons for us to live by. We might even internalize them for a little while.

But in my experience, once the glow dissipates, we're still left with lives that we have no clue how to navigate. At the mercy of compulsive behaviours that even therapy fails to truly fix (so g'dluck to a 100 minute movie trying to do so). And then the nihlistic thoughts ticking away every day as the planet is consumed. All this will be gone soon. What's the point of a fleeting two hours of fun compared to the pain and uncertainty that constantly rattle through my mind?

This movie is the point. Or rather, what this movie does is the point.

Every year, when I reach my low season (sometimes its Spring, sometimes its Summer, this year it's Winter), I watch Donnie Darko , and I'm reminded of what I love about film. How it's capable of touching you to the core, reassuring you that what you feel is real but telling you that it doesn't have to end there.

This movie is about facing oblivion and realizing that you still matter, that you're not alone, that you will be missed. That you're loved basically, no matter how unlikely it seems.

Like most 'edgy' teens, I abandoned the catholic faith I grew up with pretty fast. And honestly I don't miss the specifics. As the film underlines, Catholicism is built around some creaky moral codes and an ugly righteousness.

But I miss feeling part of something bigger. The brave stance is to realize there's no afterlife, no supernatural forces, that the only thing that matters is the here and now. But in a world that seems so ready to destroy itself, that doesn't have much meaning.

That's why I love Richard Kelly's take on spiritualism. Because make no mistake, Donnie Darko is a a deeply spiritual film, (at least in the theatrical cut, but let's not go there ). It finds wonder and grace in a world that's very ugly. Connections between people take on an ethereal importance. And there's knowledge that somehow our essence lives on, even if it's only a faint echo in another universe.

Maybe this is all fantasy, but it's my type of fantasy. It gives me strength. When I finish this film, I realize this is what cinema is supposed to do. And it's what I want to try to do. It's a slim chance though, because this movie is a miracle.

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