Monday, September 17, 2012

Donnie Darko and Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind

Donnie Darko (2001)

I had no expectations of what Donnie Darko was coming into the film. The only thing I knew was that it is commonly regarded as a great film. With that being said, I was a little disappointed that the movie didn't give me much of a reaction after watching it. I was sort of just "blah" with it.

The best part of Donnie Darko was the low budget, raw feeling of the film. The actual shooting style is more narrative as it feels like you are living through the day with the characters. Donnie is played by a young Jake Gyllenhaal and because of his age, his acting seems unpolished but it works for the role to provide the awkwardness of his character.

His sister, is played by his real one, Maggie. Their table bickering becomes more believable and obviously their resemblance adds to the validity of the family. Another key character is Gretchen Ross played by Jena Malone, who is Donnie's love interest and the big piece of the puzzle at the end. Patrick Swayze plays the role of a guru self-help doctor who feeds propaganda to all those around him. Donnie's interactions with him are some of the more priceless points of the movie.

Without giving away too many details, the movie becomes rather bizarre as Donnie tries to deal with an imaginary friend who tells him to do bad things. The sequence of events in the movie play out in cause and effect scenarios. Every action has a reaction, and because this the final scene of the movie is a bit of a shocker. The plot twists through different times periods in the story.

Overall, as I said, I'm kind of apathetic toward the movie. I can't decide if it was a small masterpiece in storytelling or just an overhyped movie. What do you all think?

IMDB - 8.2/10
TheSIBandGuy - 2.9/5

That leads me to...

Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind (2004)

I found this story to be much more involved and of higher concept. The main character, Joel Barish (Jim Carrey), and his eccentric lover, Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet), become involved through a chain of random events. They are drawn to each other because of their own personal problems, Joel is a socially awkward pseudo recluse while Clem, is an erratic and compulsive alcoholic.

Using their new found relationship as a way to deal with their own problems, they eventually develop new ones with each other. In an effort to rid themselves of each other they try an experimental treatment that alters their minds...I'll leave it at that.

The audience is then taken through the recesses's of Joel's mind in an effort to find Clementine. It is here that we see Joel in real life, Joel in his mind, and Joel conscious of himself in his head, in other words, three parallel universes of sorts.

The viewer really has to pay attention as the story advances back and fourth between the three Joel's. At certain points it becomes disorienting because you don't know which is which. The movie hits deep, and makes you wonder how fate works. It also in a way tackles the age old question of: "Is it better to have loved and lost than not have loved at all?"

Yet again this movie sort of open ended, leaving the viewer to interpret which Joel they are watching. The cast is excellent, the dialogue and story are great, and the intense dream like sequences make for a psychological drama.

IMDB - 8.4
TheSIBandGuy - 4.4/5

To tie the two movies together, obviously Eternal Sunshine was a better film in my opinion. I thought Jim Carrey really stepped out of the comedy realm and put his head to something serious, and it worked. The cast and director were more experienced and the budget was bigger. With that being said Donnie Darko worked on a small scale and really utilized what they had. I'd recommend DD as a one time watch, and Eternal Sunshine as a borderline classic.


  1. Two of my favorite movies ever. And i think donnie darko is something that grows on you. but the smallest things can have greatest consequences.

  2. Thanks for the comment Kristen! Yes, I was informed that the director's cut of Donnie Darko adds maybe a scene or two, but it changes the whole movie. I need to check it out. Do you think I was correct in grouping the two movies together, or are they very different for you?


Please feel free to leave your comments and feedback below. I'd love to hear your feedback whether positive or negative, and I always respond. Thanks for reading!