Donnie Darko doesn’t start where you think it does. It starts with the timeless question, Why do bad things happen to good people? What good could there be, for example, in the random death of an innocent kid? Donnie Darko tackles this question by showing us what would have happened if said kid hadn’t died. Don’t worry–no spoilers here. It would be almost impossible to spoil a movie this alive with weird particularity. Too often, when we wonder about that innocent kid in the newspaper’s obit section, he remains an abstract good, his death an abstract injustice, the future he missed out on a vaguely imagined good future, doubtlessly preferable to his early end. Not so in Donnie Darko’s universe. Donnie’s world is full of miracles and odd homework assignments, family rancor and psychiatry sessions, strange gurus and neighbors. Everyone in this film is the center of his or her own world, which realistic touch makes it matter all the more when we see how their lives are affected by the life and death of that innocent kid. Donnie asks the timeless question. God answers in a bunny costume, and shows him the answer on a movie screen. Amazingly, the answer satisfies.
Archive for March, 2010
I expected this movie’s characters to come across as paper dolls, an effete outsider’s best guess at what a doomed suburban family looks like. And I have to say, after the first fight scene, outside the car at the rest stop, I was bracing for a very stage-y script and three hours of unconvincing sparks (for the convincing kind of stage-y sparks between husband and wife, check out Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf). (more…)
I’m a victim of my own good fortune, which is to say, I’ve been spoiled. Had I not recently burned through, or been burned through by, the first four seasons of Dexter, I might have walked away from 1999’s Minus Man with a greater appreciation of the originality with which the film treats its serial killer, Vann Siegert. On its own merits, the movie does provide many pleasures, but in each case, a gremlin of inconsistency sneaks into the picture. I owe you several examples, so here goes: (more…)