Jake Gyllenhaal Month #1: Donnie Darko, Brokeback Mountain

Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, is a troubled teenager who is experiencing visits from a monstrous giant rabbit, Frank, who is telling him that the world will end very soon, in fact he told Donnie the exact second of the apocalypse. Donnie falls completely under Frank’s influence and indulges in troubling behavior and commits a series of crimes. He is soon sent to a psychotherapist to evaluate his state of mind. His therapist characterizes his behavior as daylight hallucinations, a symptom of paranoid schizophrenia. Donnie eventually comes to suspect that his visions are connected to time travel.

The movie is directed by Richard Kelly. Jena Malone is playing Donnie’s new girlfriend, Katharine Ross is Donnie’s therapist, Dr. Thurman, and Patrick Swayze is playing the motivational speaker for whom Donnie has a particular dislike.

Donnie Darko has a large and loyal global following and it’s symbol, a sinister looking rabbit head, is well known worldwide. It is a masterful work that takes you deep into the head of a troubled teenager or is that maybe your head? It is a menacing movie that can easily freak you out. You really have to closely keep track of the details if you want to understand the plot. Even than most people will need a detailed explanation to understand this mind bending masterpiece. The plot becomes easier to follow if you watch the director’s cut which goes into more detail and gives some explanations. It also helps to read the book “The Philosophy of Time Travel” which Donnie got from his teacher, that explains the science and reasoning behind the whole time travel phenomena the movie is dealing with. Once you get a good grip on the time travel mechanics some events and actions will become clearer to you. This movie is definitely a must see for all the people who love solving puzzles and figuring out mind bending things.

Brokeback Mountain

Brokeback Mountain is an American romantic drama describing a complex relationship between two men, placed in American West in 1960s. Jake Gyllenhaal is playing a cowboy, Jake, who has been hired to herd sheep in the mountains of Wyoming where he meets another sheep herder, Ennis, whom he falls in love with. They develop a complex relationship and although they both form conventional families their emotional bond lives on as they meet occasionally. Jake’s lover, Ennis, is played by Heath Ledger, their spouses are played by Anne Hathaway and Michelle Williams. The movie premiered in 2005 as an adaptation of the 1997 short story by Annie Proulx. It was directed by Ang Lee.

The movie was a huge critical and commercial success for a good reason as it does a great job of bringing the struggles of a gay couple to the audience. It shows both the internal struggles each of them face as well as the pressure from the environment that does not condone their kind of love. It is a beautiful, unconventional love story that has a tragic ending. The thing that makes it feel unusual and natural is that it does not focus on the gay rights, or fight for equality but rather has a character focused and driven plot that gives us a glimpse into a world of suffering of gay men in 1960s and 1970s.

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