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Monday, December 08, 2003

I've now seen "Donnie Darko"> seven times, four since getting the DVD.

In a way few films do, it captures a whole range of emotional responses; some scenes are uproariously funny, while others provoke fairly intense sadness.

I can see why, however, it did poorly at the box office. While the theatrical trailer was pretty good, the promotional spots were horrible - some of them suggested it was some sort of slasher-type flick. In reality, it's nearly impossible to categorize. It's not a horror movie, it's not a suspense thriller, and it's not a comedy, though it has elements of all of those. You could call it a science fiction movie or a coming-of-age drama and not be inaccurate. I imagine some viewers are critics thought it tried to be too many things at once.

The DVD commentary makes repeated references to how this film made no money, which struck me as a bit out of date, since as most people who read this know, it has developed a sizable cult following: a local theater has been doing midnight showings of "Donnie Darko" every week for almost a year, and it already makes lists of top cult films only two years after its release. Heck, as of now, it's #90 on the IMDB's All-Time Top 250.

In any event, I can't think of a movie that speaks to me quite as much as this one does.

For one thing, it's set in the year 1988, and from what I can gather the title character is supposed to be more or less the same age I was that year. Sometimes I had urges to do the sorts of things Donnie does in the film, but never acted on them. (And, as far as I know, I never sleepwalked.) Like Donnie, I was a bright and yet really messed up kid.

I imagine most people might think these things contradict, or are at least in tension.

I've tended to find the opposite - the more in awe I was of someone's intellect, the harder he or she seemed to find fitting in with his or her surroundings.


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