Sunday, October 30, 2005

Well, that was a mindfuck: A story of a viewing of the film "Donnie Darko"

by the Monitors
To begin with, if you've seen the movie "Donnie Darko," (hereforth, "DD") read no further, because I'll spoil the shit out of it for you. I'd enjoy doing that, so if you are so averse to conflict that you will take bullshit from people over the internet, then keep reading no matter what.

Anyway, let me set the stage. My Chilean girlfriend Dana and I ordered DD from Netflix about 3 weeks ago, knowing nothing about the movie but hearing great things about it. I heard it was "fucking hilarious, " and she heard it was "fucking great," among other "fucking [adj.]" combinations. Obviously, fucking was the lowest common denominator of DD, and anyone that knows me for 5 minutes knows that I won't pass on a movie with that much fucking. So it takes us 3 weeks to watch it, and against my better judgment, I decide not to go out on Saturday, Halloween night for the non-student working class mid-20's cross-section. But we don't start watching the movie until about 1130pm, so the movie continues on well into the late night of October 30.

So the movie begins more or less with a delusioned (literally) Jake Gyllenhall (I made no attempt to spell his name correctly) as Donnie Darko (the tragic hero, albeit it one with a very uncreative last name), at dinner with his typical American family, arguing with his sister and using many naughty words such as "fuck." Then he goes to bed and sleep walks, narrowly avoiding an odd instance of a jet engine crashing into his bedroom yet remaining intact and landing on his bed. During his wanderings, he's told by a psychotic authoritative man-sized rabbit that the world will end in 28 days. The day he is told this is October 2. The movie more or less countsdown to October 30 at this point.

During these 28 days (later - see zombies), Jake, I mean Donnie, discovers how to see into the future after a secret screening of The Abyss in his basement, then vadalizes his school, and also burns down a pedophilic motivational speaker's house. As it all adds up to October 30, Jake, I mean Donnie, slowly begins to piece together how the world is a big deterministic cause-effect chain (not a tree), and searches for a way to save himself from dying alone during the End. As an ultimate result of his ill-fated search, Donnie's girlfriend gets run over by a dude on Halloween eve who is dressed in a demented rabbit costume (also seen in Independence Day), who he quickly shoots in the left eye (an impressive distance shot for a novice). The movie turns a screw, Donnie travels back in time and decides to lie in his bed and sleep soundly the night of October 2/October 30 when all the shit goes down with the jet engine, thus sacrificing himself, facing his only fear (a theme of the motivational speaker) of dying alone, and obviating all collateral harm/death to others and avoiding personal grief.

Needless to say, it's an incredibly unsettling film, not to mention bizarre and difficult to follow. All in all, it makes one question the scope of tragedy in life, and puts you in the uncomfortable position of someone who is increasingly delusioned about something so seemingly trite as the end of the world. But rather than leading towards a scattered perception of reality, the movie (and Donnie's purpose) converges as Donnie finally takes the world by the balls and sacrifices himself for everyone's salvation; though it can be said that he finds his own, as well.

So in conclusion, an extremely introspective movie about forseeing one's death and its consequences, and being able to choose in retrospect of options therein, all while exploring the tapestry of human existence and God, motivated by an imagined psychotic bunny rabbit who foretells of a culmination of events to a Doomsday on October 30, the same night I watch the film. Now that's "fucking weird."

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