I don’t really understand this movie. I went into it, having already been hyped up about it and ready to be awed, but I wasn’t. I know it is trying to be a very complex film, but I just want to hear some other people’s opinions on it, so I can watch it again from a different angle. Understand, I don’t hate the movie, I just want other opinions on the film.
Donnie Darko is the representation of the illusions of grandeur Richard Kelly has, false philosophy masquerading as emotional insight of sacrifice through convoluted science fiction with neither the depth of Solaris nor the sumptuous visuals of Blade Runner, but instead a story that attempts to extract meaning where there is not only no meaning, but nothing of worth at all. There, I just saved from being subjected to another viewing.
Hold on. I saw the film on DVD with some friends knowing absolutely nothing about it. We had just “gotten in the mood” and pressed play. I have rarely had a home viewing experience that parallels that night. Not saying the movie is that exceptional, just that it was unexpected and unconventional and extremely hilarious (even though I wasn’t sure some parts were even meant to be funny). I will remember it as one of the most enjoyable nights watching a film with friends. Years later, I bought the Director’s Cut, and, well, big mistake. Give me the original any day of the week. I love Tarkovsky and Bergman and Dreyer and Lynch (in particular), but DD was plain fun, and I’ll defend it on those grounds alone.
Two words: Over hyped. It’s a film for the teenie boppers to gush over.
Yeah, it may be over-hyped, but that’s not the films problem. For me it stands as a cracking, engaging piece of entertainment. It has a nice feel and something to say about idenitiy and belonging that does not presuppose a moron is watching, unlike a lot of ‘youth’ cinema.
I found it sure handed and intriguing……. but don’t get me started on Southland Tales….. ouch!
I think it’s just pretentious tosh and possibly the least comprehensible movie I’ve ever seen.
Haven’t seen it in a while, but some thoughts. Good flick, absolutely. Over-hyped, no doubt. However, the two are not mutually exclusive. The film’s reputation blew up in such a way that I think many people who went to see it expected a life-changing masterwork…some bona fide logical philosophical thesis. Kelly’s self-aggrandizing and practically immediate director’s cut treatment inflated the film’s reputation even further. But in the end, I think the original version is simply a thoughtfully constructed (even though there are intentionally obfuscated clumps) and often very funny young adult movie that older generations can easily relate to…Kelly looking at high school teenage angst from an older and distanced perspective. And if you’re encouraged along the way to think about time, mortality, free will, and the way use our lives, great, but I think there’s plenty of entertaining filmmaking regardless. After BLOW UP came out, I think a lot of critics followed by tastemakers freaked that it was the solution to centuries of ontological debates, but that died down.
Coincidently, I was thinking just yesterday about DONNIE DARKO for the first time in a while in relationship to DON’T LOOK NOW. What I like so much about the filmmaking in both movies is that they show the audience the inexplicable first-person visions of their alignment characters. Gyllenhaal and Sutherland’s characters both feel compelled to uncover the mystery behind their respective “hallucinations” and the audience shares this curiosity (at least I did, though I’m sure from the feedback on this forum others did not). Only after it’s too late do the characters and audience realize the forewarning potential of the supernatural communiques.
I’m not the smartest guy in the world, but I just didn’t understand what was going on. Later I read an essay that explained all the details of what was happening and I thought, you shouldn’t have to read external materials to “get” a film. I think it’s very overrated.
Let me rephrase that…I’m not the dumbest guy in the world…
I definitely agree that one shouldn’t feel obligated to read convoluted dissections of a film climax (or any portion) to feel they’ve understood it. DONNIE DARKO just makes me feel the same way I do about 2001’s finale, for example. The rest of the film is compelling enough to permit that it’s climax remains viable even if the meaning of that climax isn’t fully clear. Granted, if you read Clarke’s novelization of 2001, the ideas are spelled out much more clearly than in the film, but I don’t think that disqualifies Kubrick’s more abstract expression of many of the same ideas.
Donnie Darko is a cult classic and has a pretty strong, vehement underground following, but it’s pretty inconsequential in terms of film history (let alone world history).
I wouldn’t worry about it too much.
Donnie Darko is a shallow, cryptic, over-hyped bunch of junk for fanboys and pseudo-intellectual college freshmen stoners who think they know everything about film there is to know, to gloat over. It’s time for Richard Kelley to sail off quietly into the sunset.
Thanks, guys. I appreciate all of the feedback on this topic. After my initial viewing of the film, I remember thinking to myself, “Seriously? That’s it?”. I simply had a hard time believing that a movie that tried that hard to come off to me as an intellectual film would simply lose me that easily. I’m sure there is something that can be taken from the film, or else it would simply be trash, and I wouldn’t be trying to look beyond the surface of the movie. But at the same time, I can definitely see how the movie assumes that “confusing” equals “deep”.
Oh, and Max, I am a college freshman :-) I simply love film, though. I work at a movie theater and a small movie store, and am doing my best to catch myself up with films that I should have seen and need to see.
I think Donnie Darko is a little over-hyped, but it’s great nonetheless.
I’ve seen it many times.
I like DONNIE DARKO. It is over-hyped, pretentious, entertaining, well-crafted, random, melancholy and funny. It is a tight, beautiful bit of entertainment.
That said, never, ever ever see SOUTHLAND TALES. It is the biggest sophomore mistake I have ever seen. Expensive, incoherent, unfunny masquerading as deadpan, shallow & jingoistic ideas masquerading as an attempt at philosophising. I even read the graphic novels in an attempt to salvage what I could, thinking Richard Kelly just took one too many pills while writing it. Not worth it. All of the criticisms levelled at DONNIE DARKO are amplified and 100% justified when applied to SOUTHLAND TALES. The latter film is also inexplicably very white trashy: Justin Timberlake, Cherri O’ Teri, Kevin Smith, Stifler, The Rock, Buffy— all playing stoners or pornstars masquerading as most wise. Deep, man, deep.
I like it because it’s a popcorn movie pretty much. It’s bubble gum and I like bubble gum. To me, it is a classic of the new millenium, and I don’t really care what other people say. It combines a John Hughes movie with magic and macabre. And the soundtrack kicks ass. What more could you ask for? I personally don’t really need to understand a film to enjoy it. I think of it like music. Do you really know what your favorite songs are about? I don’t but I still love them. Maybe I love them even more because it’s cryptic.
A movie about a schizo kid, whats there not to get. A solid film that is what it is, and nothing more.
I liked the original. The Director’s Cut was a big step down. It’s inventive, enjoyable, and funny. Kelly is nothing to write home about.
Fighting words like that make enemies….Donnie Darko is sooo uncool to like that you don’t like it. The people you singled out in your movie are the exact people that indie/psuedo-intellectual kids like yourself, are afraid of. Lets not conform to what other people like, but at the same time lets not conform to being the type of person that makes judgements on the judgements of other people. Now I know your mauling over that because it might be just to big to wrap your small brain around…..but Donnie Darko is simply good because of its ability to confuse the viewer and give each individual its own way to tell the story. The themes of depression, schizophrenia, and time travel meld the entire concept into the story that is so confusing that it makes you feel like you were in high school again. Beautiful picture, beautiful story.
indie/pseudo-intellectual? come on now. no name calling. that’s what’s really kid-like.
But it shouldn’t go without being said.
I didn’t find the film over-hyped at all. It was unlike anything at the time and has since inspired a whole subculture, Gary Jules’ version of Mad World is now more recognisable than the Tears For Fears original, and I think Jake Gyllenhaal single-handedly brought back hoodies. I can’t see how anyone could think Richard Kelly had “delusions of grandeur” while making his debut feature film, and I don’t understand why anyone would compare the film to Solaris or Blade Runner.
I think the reason that many don’t like the film is evident in this thread: some call it a popcorn flick, others the most cryptic film ever, someone says it’s about a schizophrenic kid, someone else says it’s false philosophy, there’s time travel but it’s about high school — the film resists being pigeonholed. It’s brilliant at genre subversion, and those who criticise the film probably like their films to fit the mould, that is to say, if a film is intellectual it needs to wear the intellectual clothes. What makes Donnie Darko so different is that it has grand ideas about time and death, but it’s wrapped in a cheesy sci-fi film masquerading as an 80s high school flick.
I’m referring of course to the theatrical cut, The Director’s Cut was a dumbed-down mess.
All the people who bash this film on the basis of incoherency are probably the same ones who will praise Lynch. I have no evidence of this, but DD is much more interesting than Eraserhead.
I like how you just clumped us all into a general category because of our opinions on a movie. Good work.
Donnie Darko is intriguing. I actually praise Richard Kelly for his efforts to involve the audience beyond the two simple hours of the film, just like he did on Southland Tales with the comics. If you don’t want to read about a film and discover what the director/writer/anyone involved was thinking while painstakingly laboring over your enjoyment then you should stick to “Last Craption Hero” or “Wild Hogs”. In fact, why are you even here?
Donnie Darko isn’t a pseudo blah blah blah film. It’s a film that provokes questions. And any film that does that is a success to me. It was also beautifully made so all the better.
The best commentary by Kelly that I have ever seen is in front of the screenplay paperback – the DVD commentary is rather helpful as well.
If you think it’s really that confusing – remember “Primer”?
I watched it four times in a row and still have no idea.
sorry about the double
Nothing to be had from that film whatsoever. Hype is a blessing or a curse, depending on who’s watching. I happen to disdain hype as a contrary to quality many times, and DD was no exception. I wouldn’t give it too much thought, it’s hipster food for the brain.
I sat there watched with an open mind and divorced from the stigma the film carried, only not to see anything contextual like what Richard Kelly claims it did. I hate it when directors who merit accolade themselves with greatness, DD is nothing more than a bullshit movie made because it was will. Southland tales? don’t get me started. I’m excited about the box, something akin to too many conceits of the twilight zone.
Donnie Darko is a great film. It’s not going to find itself in the canon of legendary films, but nevertheless it’s a quality piece. Often mistaken for a film solely about time travel and the age old question of “If you could see your future, would you?”, in reality it provides us with a social commentary that focuses on superficiality, much akin to that of American Beauty (minus the sci-fi element).