Watching Donnie Darko in high school felt like tapping deep into the metaphysical. Not only was the film enjoyable, but the conversation it spun doubly so.
I’m hesitant to watch it as we approach it’s 20th anniversary. Will what was found profound then come across as trite now? Is the mind-stretching memory more important than the performances of the siblings Gyllenhaal? Don’t forget Swayze, either.
One theme I remember is viewing life as the spectrum from love to fear. Donnie goes on a giant rant about the falshood of such simplicity. It’s packed with so much angst that any teen would be drawn to alignment with this profound insight.
Contrary to my shared audience, I landed opposite of Donnie on this one. Admitting it’s naivity, seeing our motivations rooted in either love or fear has rang true as I’ve tested things over time.
With hindsight comes complication. What was once considered love is revealed as a veneer for unrecognized fear. Transgressions born from fear have resulted in loving friendship. Fear and love are intertwined, battling for resolve.
Maybe Michael Scott got it right.
“Would I rather be feared or loved? That’s easy. Both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.”