Donnie Darko (Discussion)

This is first film on Grace’s “3 films'” list. If I remember correctly, Grace chose the film because she really liked it, but she wasn’t quite sure why. She wanted to hear other idiot’s interpretation of the film.

3 Responses to “Donnie Darko (Discussion)”

  1. Reid

    I saw this film twice, and I remember being confused and dissatisfied about the ending. One of the biggest problems or questions I had was why did Frank get Donnie out of bed, if Donnie just had to eventually get back in bed anyway?

    After seeing it a second time, I think my conclusion (and I may have gotten this from someone else) is that Donnie had to make a choice about sacrificing his life or not. Grace pointed out that Donnie is sort of a super-hero–everything from his name to the things he does.

    Other thoughts:

    1. I liked the whole 80s vibe of the film. One of my favorite scenes is the montage sequence with the Tears for Fears soundtrack in the background. That really took me back. The director sorts of recreates and re-explores the John Hughes’ world.

    2. I liked the way the film covers the isolation and ennui of the suburbs and the middle-upper class without being primarily an anthropological expose or critique on suburban life (i..e. Ice Storm, American Beauty, etc.)

  2. Mitchell

    The Ice Storm is so much more than that, but that’s off topic.

    I found Donnie Darko interesting, but ultimately unrewarding, and can’t really say I liked it. It definitely has an 80s vibe and pays serious homage to 80s films (more than just inhabiting “John Hughes Land,” as Roger Ebert puts it). The music is 80s music, but it’s also 80s music that appeared in 80s films. In the opening sequence, we hear Echo and the Bunnymen’s “The Killing Moon,” which immediately made me think of the Bunnymen’s appearance on the soundtrack of The Lost Boys. In fact, many elements in this film hearken back to The Lost Boys.

    Boys on bikes, and one scene in particular, really remind me of E.T., and there are a couple of shots of television screens displaying white noise. The catastrophic end, not to mention Donnie’s persona itself, reminded me a lot of Heathers. The house party scene is typical Hughes and 80s teen-exploitation stuff (did these parties ever really exist anywhere outside the movies? I think not). None of these by itself makes the case that the director’s got his heart firmly in the eighties, but in sum, they produce an undeniable tribute to the movies of that strange decade.

    I’m glad I got to see this, and I’d see it again. There’s a certain kind of 2000s teenager who really likes this film, and I’m frequently asked by them if I’ve seen it, so if for no other reason than that, I’m grateful that I can say I have.

  3. Reid

    What made you not like the film?

    I would also encourage you to write your comments on Ice Storm.

    There’s another thing I’d like to mention. I liked the mood of the film. There’s a kind of realism and lack of Hollywood-ness in the films that I don’t associate with John Hughes or other teen films in the 80s. The health teacher, Kitty Farmer (Beth Grant) and Jim Cunningham (Patrick Swayze) are exceptions. I just thought the film did a good job of capaturing the loneliness, uncertainty, helplessness of teenagers and even parents and teachers.

    For example, I liked the character of Cherita, the overweight Asian girl. I liked her dance performance. In a way it seemed like something you would laugh at, but it ended up being touching. I also liked Noah Wylie and Drew Barrymore’s helpless and sad kind of performance. I especially liked the scene where Barrymore’s character screens an obscenity after getting fired, and then giving a knowing nod to a Cherita (?) sitting nearby, whom she didn’t see at first.

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