Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko ★★★

I said in my review for Annihilation that I can't get some films because they're too deep for me to really understand. I'm a surface-level kind of guy--going too deep is going to go over my head. But then, some films pretend to be deep, but it's all smoke and mirrors; if you really look under the hood, there's nothing there. It's a vapid experience. And frankly, I often can't tell the difference between the two. Such is the case with Donnie Darko, which at least pretends a high-brow atmosphere, yet I suspect is little more than an excuse to showcase teenage angst while throwing in crowd pleasing references to Stephen Hawking and "cellar door."

Donnie Darko is seeing things. People, actually; or, to be precise, he's seeing one man in an eerie bunny costume named Frank. Frank is all in his head, but despite his incorporeal composition, he's pretty good at getting Donnie to do things he oughtn't. Like, flood the school. And there are mornings Donnie wakes up in strange places--like, the twisting mountain road that opens the film--without remembering how he got there. During one of these night jaunts, he's told that there's only about a month left before the world is destroyed.

It's an intriguing film about... uh, well, I'm not sure what. It's intriguing, though. Given the toxic way Donnie treats everyone around him, it's hard to actually root for his success, even though presumably we're supposed to enjoy the little good things: his relationship with Gretchen, his therapist, his teachers that see his potential. That may be intentional, given the way the film ends.

A great cast, though. I'm always into films that cast siblings, so I enjoyed the Jake/Maggie Gyllenhaal pairing. But we also have an early Jenna Malone role, Seth Rogen's first film (in a minor support role), that sexy doctor from ER, Drew Barrymore (with one of the more confusing storylines in the film), and more.

Also loved the soundtrack, which aided in some wonderful montages. Look, I realized "montage" became something of a bad word in cinema circles--and I whole heartedly agree, mostly--but these montages are so good. The slo-mo when Donnie arrives at school for the first time and we slowly move around the school? So good. It's like a damned music video. But even without the brilliant montage work, these songs are bangers.

But does it mean anything? That's the question, innit?

Jacob liked these reviews