Donovan's Echo Jim Cliffe

Donovan's Echo Jim Cliffe
Though typically made evident by the presence of Kirk Cameron, the good Christian cinematic parable comes in a variety of forms. Most often, the story is one of personal triumph over doubt and spiritual awakening involving miracles and arbitrary reward for good behaviour or adherence to a Judeo-Christian ethos. In tepid mystery Donovan's Echo, God works in subtle ways, proving that belief in his symbols and signs ― a symptom of the onset of schizophrenia ― can help save the world and lead us to enlightenment. Having fled his quaint hometown after the tragic death of his wife and daughter, the titular Donovan (Danny Glover) ― the man with the aforementioned visions ― returns years later to confront his demons, in the process reconnecting with police officer friend Finnley (Bruce Greenwood) and taking a job as an entry level grocery store stock boy. Often drunk and awkwardly demonstrating his dyslexia and math skills ― they come up during the climax of the film ― he starts experiencing déjà vu about local deaths and accidents, mostly surrounding the 11-year-old Maggie (Natasha Calis), who has recently lost her father in an automotive accident. Repeatedly using the image of the ouroboros to represent cycles of human behaviour and existent ― here indicative of a greater guiding hand ― Donovan winds up as a bit of a Cassandra figure, freaking out in public places about people potentially dying in a bridge collapse. Essentially, this serviceable and bland mystery is telling us to believe in miracles and learn from our past to make a better future. In fact, there's even an opening quote from Albert Einstein outlining this very concept. Because the machinations of the central mystery are lethargic at best, going through the standard, predictable process to a foregone conclusion of self-forgiveness for past follies, it's hard not to notice the overly simplistic way in which Christianity is handled. Ignoring the many contradictions and hypocrisies inherent, in addition to the notion of it as a totalitarian construct designed as a rudimentary judicial system, there's a single conversation about religion as a coping mechanism for annihilation anxiety. The implications and limitations of such observations are mostly eschewed for incredibly embarrassing scenes of Danny Glover stuttering and lumbering around covered in sweat yelling at a pre-teen girl about her impending death. It's not as funny as it sounds. Included with the DVD is a very dry commentary track with most of the people involved in the project, as well as a "Making of" that outlines the extensive preparation for this film. Apparently, they honed the screenplay for over a year. Yikes. (Anchor Bay)