I began watching "The Passion of Darkly Noon" with nearly little information about it. I knew which actors were in it and that it had something to do with a man who just got out of a cult. That man meets a "scantily clad" woman and desires arise.
Well, maybe that sounds like a lot of information, but let me express that it really isn't. The movie is so much deeper than those few lines of plot. During the beginning of the movie, I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about the film, but afterwards, I sat in awe of what had been displayed. The true test of the value of movies is if one contemplates the film at a later date, and without a doubt, I've pondered this film for a long time after viewing it. I don't profess to understand all the symbolism, but I do understand the purpose of the film and the significance of the characters. I have theories about the big shoe. Perhaps it is a symbol of how out of place Darkly is or feels, or a symbol of how he doesn't understand much in this "new" world. And in the end, with the small shoe, maybe it's a symbol of how out of place we all feel or how we lack understanding of our own worlds. But who knows what the shoe really meant.
Although things progressed too quickly in the beginning, by the end, I realized that it was supposed to be like that. This is Darkly's story and we see the most important parts of his stay with Callie and Clay. It was the lightening quick progression of days and events that led me to understand just what was happening to Darkly Noon. His need to see everything as a sin dissipated and he began to really desire to be accepted by Callie and to try to accept her. But then he realized that acceptance wasn't enough, that he needed to be loved, and his desire did not love him back. Like his self-inflicted wounds, Darkly, himself, became infected and turned to poison (just as Callie said) because he wasn't tended to the way he needed to be.
His cultist parents popped back into his mind and everything was a sin again. Still, there is a part of him that knows differently, but he so desperately wants to be loved, by his dead parents, by God, by SOMETHING, that he allows himself to be manipulated. And the form of his manipulation is incredible. It's not a living person who uses him...it is his past, his upbringing, his learned beliefs and his vision of his parents that manipulates him into wanting to be "right" with God again and cleansing himself and the place he has been. And he allows himself to be manipulated because he knows that he will finally be loved, not by Callie, but by God, by something.
It's the development of Darkly that makes the story. It's not about Callie or Clay or anyone else who happens along. It's about Darkly, how he responds to people, how people respond to him, and how he effects other people. He is searching for something he can understand, something that is normal to him...hence his friendship with Roxy. I also think the movie is about the basic need to be important to someone. This movie left me thinking about the possibilities if Clay hadn't returned. Would Darkly developed into a "normal" person, acquiring his desire's love? Darkly is important to Callie until Clay returns, then he is put aside, although not in an obvious way. It shatters Darkly's notion that Callie could love him and that drives him right back to doing things the way he was taught in the cult. And also, what would have happened if Jude had come to visit more and made Darkly laugh and feel a part of something. But in the end, "Who will love him now?"
The way this film was shot is so striking. The film makers are unafraid of being unusual and using some non-standard techniques. The cuts, lighting and angles of the scene where Darkly is praying is simply amazing. How that scene is crafted really lends itself to project a creepy feeling to the viewer. That's only one example of the uniqueness of the film making.
Now, let me mention Brendan Fraser. He is quite possibly the most talented actor in "young" Hollywood. No, he's not De Niro or Nicholson (and personally, I feel that they are over-rated anyway). Fraser is an actor who can convince me that he is a Cave Man going to High School just as well as he can convince me he's a stuttering cult member or a persecuted Jewish football player at a 1950's prep school. To be able to convince someone that he is all of those things is amazing. He's extremely versatile. And while some people question some of the roles he takes on, everyone of those roles fills as if he was born to play them.
I loved "George of the Jungle" not only because he was mostly naked most of the movie, but also because he was so GOOD as the title character. Brendan Fraser doesn't have to take himself seriously ALL THE TIME, like other actors do. He can take cartoon characters on and have fun with them.
Since this is a review of "The Passion of Darkly Noon," I'll stop writing about Brendan's other movies. As for this one...my God (oops, that's a sin), Brendan showed his talent. His stutter alone was amazingly well executed. But the magnitude of his performance left ME stuttering. He mastered everything nuance and side of his character, from Darkly's naivete and his blind devotion to his cult's belief in the Bible, to his fierce need to be cleansed and right with God and his transformation into an Angel of Death filled with fury.
In short (and in closing), I found this film to rich in characters played by talented actors and rich in deep and significant intent. This is not a movie for everyone. I can see how someone could not like the film, but if you like movies that are strange, yet comprehensible, movies that keep you thinking long after you've stopped watching, movies that make you wonder "what if...", then you'll probably get something out of this movie. I've avoided using the word "enjoy" because I'm not sure if one can "enjoy" this movie...one must experience this movie. The word Enjoy seems to project this sense of being entertained, and while "The Passion of Darkly Noon" is a movie and movies are meant to entertain, this film is not about entertainment, it's about emotions, thinking, feeling and understanding. It's meant to make you think, not give you that good down deep "I've just been entertained" feeling. It's meant to give you that "I've just experienced something very intriguing and wildly amazing" feeling.
I hope other people took something from this movie and that the makers of the film know that it is an appreciated piece of work. I'm very taken with this film and I know that I'll be contemplating it for a long time to come.