Written & Directed by Richard Kelly
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Holmes Osborne, Mary McDonnell, Drew Barrymore, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Jenna Malone
A troubled teenager is plagued by visions of a large bunny rabbit that manipulates him to commit a series of crimes, after narrowly escaping a bizarre accident.
Do I really have to write SPOILERS for a film released over a decade ago?
I didn’t start this blog until October of 2011, so it’s safe to assume there is an entire wealth of films I’ve enjoyed (and downright worshiped) over the years – I just lacked the review vehicle you’re currently reading. Donnie Darko, in my humble opinion, is one of the most powerful films ever made. While this film has been reviewed and analyzed to death, and I can’t add anything to the existing mythos or perceived theories that hasn’t been screamed a million times already, I do want you to know how great this really is.
This is a film about destiny.
“Some people are just born with tragedy in their blood.”
Donnie Darko sounds like some emo kid that misses his Prozac doses if you believe the synopsis. Sure, he’s brooding, swears, has obvious authority (or perceived authority) issues, and he does seem like the Tate Langdon of Middlesex – films like to paint these characterizations though. Donnie is anything but crazy – he’s the opposite of it. He doesn’t start out that way, but I assure you at the end of the film, he is enlightened as as hell. In order to appreciate this film for its real core, you’ll need to see it more than once. If you do a bit of research, you can learn there is a little back story here in the form of The Philosophy of Time Travel. This is the book from the film, written by ‘crazy” Roberta Sparrow. She’s the old woman constantly checking her mailbox.
I’m not going to go into the Tangent Universe, The Manipulated Dead, and all that – I do urge you to read it after a proper viewing. Once you realize this is a straight sci-fi film, it might click for you. I know a decent amount of people who watched this recently and could only compare it to Final Destination. That might be true, just painful to hear those movies mentioned together. Donnie Darko is about fate, about how Donnie knows changing his actions will literally make everything right in the world, perhaps multiple worlds.
The acting and direction of this film deserves its accolades. There’s a certain chemistry in this cast that gives me goosebumps when the big moments are hitting. It’s gloomy, sad, painful, and basically drenched in sorrow from one perspective. From others, it’s beautiful despite what you might consider tragedy. This “tragedy” could be an final act of love, destiny, and understanding. Speaking of, pay attention to Donnie’s relationship with his mother. They share some subtle moments.
The music is another shining jewel in all things Donnie Darko. Tears for Fear’s upbeat 80’s powerhouse, Head Over Heels, couldn’t have better timing, Musically, it’s Gary Jules sob-worthy version of Tears for Fear’s Mad World. (If you’re fresh to this generation, that’s the slow song from all the Gears of Wars commercials) that takes top honors in this film. The ending scene is stitched together perfectly, and this song will make you watch it with your mouth agape. For a movie about futuristic talking rabbits, mystery jet engines that land in your bed – this is a touching, endearing film that my review couldn’t do fucking justice on my best Hemingway kind of day.
If you’ve never seen Donnie Darko, I urge you to add it to your watchlist – it’s perfect. And it has this scene pictured below. I should mention this is set during October of 1988, possibly one of the best months I’ll ever have. Life was grand.