Monday, May 28, 2012

How I've been influenced by the movie Donnie Darko and never even knew it.

Okay--so I wasn't aware of the fact that the film Donnie Darko, released in 2001 and ignored because it features a chunk of a jet engine falling out of the sky, and a kid who thinks the world is going to end in the very same year as 9-11-- has become a cult classic. I watched reluctantly when my hipster son told me I'd probably like it.

Understatement. Like it? Unknown to me, it's been informing my YA sensibilities in much the same way the guy in the rabbit suit stalked a very young and adorable Jake Gyllenhaal. My book BREAKING GLASS is about a troubled kid who may have brought a girl back from the dead or may be a hallucinating the whole thing---I've been influenced, indirectly, without even knowing it.

This movie came out before the young adult novel craze took hold, but I suppose, if I were a student of film I would be able to trace its roots to this film and others like it. It's probably not the first of its kind, or the last--but you see--at the time I was neither a college student or even a writer. I was just a young mom trying to cope with the insanity of 9-11 and this movie, I suppose got lost in the shuffle.

But there it is, a gem of weirdness (and I can see its connection to very weird movies and TV shows of my past such as Eraserhead and Twin Peaks). I'm sure there are others--as I said, I am not a scholar in this area. It's just so exciting for me to see a movie that really captures the vibe of my books.

But, Darko is really out there. I have been working hard to dial my tendency toward zaniness back--to focus on one strange event that sends all the characters in my books spinning out of control.

Darko is an enigma, so dense the director has a website and a director's cut to explain all the strange sci-fi gibberish that underscores the movie. But I guess that's not really what I love about this film. I love the idea of the ordinary boy toggling back and forth between the extraordinary and the mundane---I love how the adults in his life are woven into the tale, each with their own secrets and parts to play. I love how Donnie, distant and disaffected, discovers what life and the people around him really mean to him and just how far he'll go to protect them. has all the elements of the best YA.

So if you haven't seen it---DO---if you have---share your insights thoughts, whatevers. I'd love to hear them.



  1. I LOVE this movie. I saw it many years ago and still think about it. Considering I immediately forget most things I see, that's really saying something. There's just a flavor to that movie, melancholy, freaky, sad, full of longing ... I don't know, but it's haunting.

  2. Thanks for commenting, Sarah. I know---it just has it all, doesn't it?

  3. It's so weird when you realize your book was influenced by something and you didn't realize it. That happened to me once when I watched Star Wars again. Donnie Darko is a very cool movie. I think I watched it first around the time it came out.

  4. oooh! i loved DD, like miss sarah, i tend to forget most things shortly after consuming them, but i DO remember how much i loved this film, and it makes me super excited about breaking glass, to hear how you feel it its echoed in DD! :)

  5. This is my all time favourite movie! I love it because it is just so weird!

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