Evan's Eyes


This movie made me feel so very old. Not because it's about a disaffected teenager in the late 1980's, at which time I was already a Young Urban Professional in corporate workforce. Because it reminds be of so many deep conversations I had in my teens and early twenties with my peers about the nature of Reality, Truth, time travel, or the Problems with America, and these concepts seemed so new and outside the realm of anybody older than us. Isn't that what college is for? To show us that our home towns are only a tiny part of a bigger world, to expose us to new ways of thinking, and allow us to try them on like costumes and see what fits. It's hard to not let a certain smugness accompanies this exploration. It feels like we're the first ones to think these thoughts, to rise above the plodding domesticity of our ancestors and break from the mundane and typical. So when college students see a movie like "Donnie Darko," they herald it as bold, innovative cinema, thought-provoking and original. They rave about it, calling it one of the best films ever and praising the director's creative genius. They're not completely wrong, but neither are they completely right. It's true that not many movies like this are made (outside of film school, anyway). The themes are deep and dark; the nature of reality, paranoid schizophrenia, questioning a divine plan, hallucinations, and omens of death. Just like excited college students, the characters wrestle with questions of time travel, whether we have Free Will or are Destined to an Unavoidable Fate, is human nature inherently good or evil, and other philosophical depths. And it makes me feel old to say Yes, these are good questions, but kids, this is not the first time they've been asked. And just asking the questions doesn't make a jumbled, overambitious film into a cinematic masterpiece. This film does have some haunting imagery, good casting choices and a willingness to wander far afield from standard Hollywood formula. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite make up for some blatant contrivances and an unsatisfying ending. To be fair, the ambiguity surrounding the ending is the stuff of all-night coffee-house conversations by philosophy majors, which may explain the cult status this film enjoys. There are people who love this film. Movie reviewers who are bored to tears by the endless parade of bland romantic comedies, repetitious teenage sex romps, and rehashed action/adventure films will find relief in the tone and theme of this movie, and may praise it just for that. This movie is exciting for those who are treading new ground, but less so for those that have been there before. I do take some satisfaction in the thought that in twenty years, young directors just out of film school will make dark, edgy films, college students will rave about them, and the forty-somethings will nod and say "It's okay, but there were movies like that when WE were kids."

If you liked the movies below, you'll probably like this one (and visa versa):

  • Jacob's Ladder
  • Siesta
  • Vanilla Sky
  • Femme Fatale
Overall Rating: 4 (where 1=Worthless, 10=Fabulous)

Eight-Facet Info Rating, rated on a scale of 0 (None) to 4 (Lots!)):

Humor: 0
Nudity: 0
Sexual Reference: 2
Sexual Activity: 1
Action: 1
Gore: 1
Violence: 2
Profanity: 2


© 2003 Evan M. Nichols