Darling: a rough map

NOTE: If you haven’t yet seen DARLING, you might want to check back here AFTER you’ve experienced it, for SPOILERS abound. I’ve outlined the entire film, albeit in my own scrawl. If you have watched the film, may this serve you well.

DARLING (Official Trailer) (dir. Mickey Keating) 

Though I tend to sketch out the flow of certain films I watch to study story beats, character decisions, narrative arcs, act breaks, thematic elements and visual or expository motifs, all with the intent of becoming a better writer, rarely do I do so with as much concentration and verve as I did with Mickey Keating’s masterful DARLING. Perhaps, it’s the film’s attention to the disintegration of a self captured so intricately by Keating’s visual poetry. Perhaps, it’s because the film’s horror still lingers under the weight of my weary eyeballs, in the mirrors of my home, or in the ticking of a clock that resounds like bones clacking gently, calling, murmuring me into another hallucinatory state. Whatever it is, this is the kind of film I want to approach with care. It deserves it.

This map, or sketch, was done on the film’s second viewing, so I know there’s a lot that has been left out. More always comes to light under further viewings and as thought and time work together. I also understand this sketch might not be helpful to anyone except me. That said, it most certainly could be helpful in terms of understanding how a movie becomes effective to a particular viewer, the beats and repetitions, the structure that makes it tick when graphed in real-time. In many ways, it’s a simple diagram of the story structure, but certain elements (doors, mirrors, phones) did start to stick out more for me. Seeing it in this way also shows me how skillfully Keating navigates a tense story with such little exposition or backstory.

I would love to see hows others mapped the film, too. So, consider this rough, but hopefully useful in some capacity. And, of course, if it stirs you to experience DARLING, all the better. It’s a fantastic piece of work, mesmerizing, really.



Thank you for your attention. If you have any tips on how you “map” films, please do let me know. For those interested, here’s an article in which Keating shares his inspirations for DARLING.

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