Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I searched and found a perfect movie

When I was a teenager my mom was my heroine, the perfect woman/wife/friend who shared all her secrets with me. Growing up, I was slowly opening my eyes: she wasn't perfect, but she would indelibly entail the greatest influence that remained inside my persona. My mother loved American actresses like Marilyn Monroe, Joanne Woodward and Natalie Wood, whenever she defended a free-spirited woman was so passionate about it, that now these remembrances bring a warm smile to my mouth. When she argued with my dad, he always complained screaming: you're much like those American crazy women!
So, when I watched "Donnie Darko" the first time, I had to confront two myths of mine: a sacred mother figure and teenage depression. I think I could get over both of them, fortunately, and it's one of the rare films that I'm completely sure helped me to be wiser. In a personal level, for me "Donnie Darko" is a story about American matriarchy, and a proof of that it's possible a cinematographic life after Howard Hawks.

Here it is my review in response to Arden's petition:
"Donnie is a young man who thinks constantly in girls and experiments sexual pulsions.
About that matter, his parents -specially Rose- are naïve at best. The mother is afraid and prefers Donnie attending therapy more than confronting sexual growth in a chat. She pays another woman -Dr. Thurman- instead. The therapist is friendly and Donnie reveals her some of his fantasies. It's possible that Donnie is feeling some incestuous impulses for his sister, since he hasn't had real experience with girls. In Director's cut Elizabeth asks him about Gretchen while carving a pumpkin and is curious in the Halloween party when Donnie goes upstairs with Gretchen. This may suggest Elizabeth takes some kinda control over Donnie's sexuality in the same way the matriarch of the family does.
Donnie endures all this family control only in his subconscious, but he isn't capable of admitting it. Uniquely in the first dinner scene he gets rebellious remarking desdainful comments to his sisters and insulting his mother afterwards.
His search of sexual realization is giddy, leading him to a classical teenager schizo process that forms in his mind the culmination of a monster shaped bunny: Frank.
The bunny is the real Elizabeth's boyfriend, equalling him in his psyque as a sexual rival. However, the external form is devoid of human attachments, only a grotesque suit, maskering his guilt. His virtual TV fantasies and matriarchal repression, all this fight is reflected by the artificial evil bunny, who scares him dreadfully in his visions non-stop.
Franks is by this logic Donnie’s psyque reflector.
This also would explain his sudden way of asking Gretchen to going out with him, 'cause his desire is so intense. Evidently Gretchen is the perfect girl, 'cause she comes from a disfunctional home and hides herself from a violent male patriarchal figure. She is an angel to Donnie's eyes in cause of her romantic behaviour but most definitively by her sexual freedom, which separates her from the other scholar girls Donnie has met. Gretchen stops Donnie's advances in a scene showing him that an emotional contact must be involved in their future sexual relationship too. She's wiser in this aspect...
So summing up: the female figure is Gretchen and the male figure is Donnie. The smurfette lecture reveals us how important sex is for Donnie: for him life has NO MEANING without sex. When Donnie and Gretchen culminate their union, they are happy and isolated from society, so society is now ready for punish them. Donnie’s hysteria makes him to run away with Gretchen, but the tragedy will appear when Frank -the evil reflector of American matriarchy and its inherente obscenity (repression)- ends killing her. Donnie prefers awakening dead than suffering a surrender to the dominant point of view of the society".


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's one shocking interpretation, Kendra, some things out of it make sense, though.

3:07 PM  
Blogger The Chemistry Guru said...

This is what is so cool about donnie darko! I love reading all the different interpretations, and I for one really enjoyed your analysis. It leans towards the (possible) attraction donnie has for his sister and (ignoring the weirdness of the real life relationship of the actors for the moment) has always made sense to me, since I read a similar theory on roger ebert site.
It is not one that is readily embraced by the culthood, but I like it.
Thanks for sharing.

10:49 AM  
Blogger Elena W said...

You're smart, kokodee. Yes, I read that review by Jim Emerson in Roger Ebert.com, and Emerson's (not R. Ebert's)explanation seemed me excessive, and I don't share some of his strong points. I don't think really that Donnie was "infatuated" with Elizabeth, but I could catch some weird vibes, not emphasized enough by R. Kelly. I prefer "my" own version, because I think when you are a teenager can't control certain impulses, but it was clear that Donnie desired Gretchen. On the other hand, I always noticed a troubled relationship between Donnie and Rose, and the bound that R. Kelly creates between sex and death, maybe it wasn't his intention after all ;)

11:19 AM  
Blogger Leslye said...


11:48 AM  
Blogger Elena W said...


11:56 AM  
Blogger The Chemistry Guru said...

And I love you three!
I do prefer your version there's something a bit too out there even for a very out of it fan like myself about Emerson's version.
I *heart* gretchen and donnie (and elizabeth).
The final scenes where he looks at her dead body in the car and kisses elizabeth on the head with the burden (or release) of inevitability on those shoulders. *sigh*

And donnie's mother; what a wonderful perfomance from mary. Is it possible to laugh and cry at the same time, seeing this 'bitch' (i believe her son calls her) swing her glass of red wine oblivious to her son's mental disintegration? And yet she loved her little boy.
That beautiful scene "how does it feel to have a wacko for a son?"
"it feels wonderful" what a movie!

1:28 PM  
Blogger Elena W said...

Mary McDonnell is one of the keys of the film. She said the script "took my breath away. It was such an uncanny combination of tragedy and extraordinary uplift". and observed: "I think that this movie allows teenagers to see themselves as heroes, it allows teenagers to see themselves as the future and the hope and the destiny of our hope and our vision".

10:25 PM  
Blogger Jack H. said...

This would almost make me want to watch the movie again. But I've seen it too many times, and the director's cut REALLY ruined it for me. (I saw the original cut first)

5:47 AM  
Blogger Elena W said...

Thanks. I like that "almost", defender. I'm afraid you're right about Director's cut: some parts got disjointed in it. I prefer the first cut too, although I dig the added classroom scenes (specially the "Watership Down" allusion).

10:32 AM  

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