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Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko

Genders: Sci-Fi, Drama, Mystery

Director: Richard Kelly

Writer: Richard Kelly

Actors: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Mary McDonnell, Holmes Osborne

Year: 2002
Run time: 1h 53min
IMDB score: 8.1
Updated: one year ago

Movie infomation

Movie name: Donnie Darko

Genders: Sci-Fi, Drama, Mystery

Imdb Score: 8.1

Runtime: 1h 53min

Released: 30 Jan 2002

Director: Richard Kelly

Writer: Richard Kelly

Actors: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Mary McDonnell, Holmes Osborne

Company: Newmarket Film Group


Imdb Link

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10/10 The fact that this is the Directors first film is amazing to me. The scenes dripped with style, yet that style never seemed distracting. None of it was self congratulatory or gluttonous. The visuals were supported by a truly emotional score and its hard to find fault in the 80's pop tunes that found their way into some of the more impressive scenes.

The story is very much thought provoking. Its the type that leaves you pondering the possibilities voiced by the characters. There is nothing condescending about this film. Answers arent simply handed out, rather the viewer is left to draw many conclusions instead. The acting is also top notch. If i hadnt known beforehand that Patrick Swayze was in this film I would have been shocked. His character is amusing and interesting all at the same time. A great cameo for him. Drew Barrymore is forgetable, though that in no way detracts from the film. Of course the star is Jake Gyllenhaal. There is nothing that can be said to properly praise his performance. The rest of the cast chosen fit their roles perfectly. All of these things combine to create a stunning film. One can only hope that filmgoers will give this little gem a shot and support a true wonder. This is the only film I have awarded a 10/10 on the IMDB.

3 years ago

Brevity cannot possibly do this justice...

5/10 In recent years, Hollywood has specialised in churning out mainstream trash; generic trash not even fit for the cutting room floor. Yet despite these movies' shortcomings, they continue to enjoy success at the box office. Sequel upon sequel, photo fit remake upon photo fit remake, frequently taking the box office by storm whilst simultaneously relegating smaller independent projects to the now relatively unheard-of arthouse cinemas. The tragedy is that the independent filmmakers are often those with the most talent; the most creativity; the most flair. One such filmmaker is director Richard Kelly, who saw the release of his scifi-drama-horror-tragedy-comedy-romance-thriller Donnie Darko last year. After reading a few rave reviews for the movie, I decided to check it out to find out what all the fuss was about.

Donnie is a seventeen year-old boy with major emotional problems. He suffers from a psychological condition not dissimilar to schizophrenia, and lives most of his life in a medication-induced daze. We watch as Donnie meets Frank, a six foot tall rabbit which predicts the end of the world. Returning to his house, Donnie finds a jet engine jutting out from the side of his bedroom. The remainder of the movie follows Donnie's coming to terms with the ghostly presence of Frank in his life, the purpose of his existence, and the fact that the world will end unless he intervenes.

Without giving too much away, I can safely say that Donnie Darko is a mind-blowing experience. And I use the word `experience' in its truest sense. From the opening shots of Donnie's suburban hometown, through to the satirical take on Middle American high schools, the movie is incredibly involving on many levels. In fact, each frame speaks to us on more profound terms than the majority of arthouse films would claim to do. This is, in part, due to the impeccable performances by each and every member of the cast. Jake Gyllenhaal, a relative unknown, delivers a subtle yet emotionally charged performance as Donnie himself - the scene in which he tells his psychologist of his various childhood traumas is made both funny and moving by the haunting way in which Jake delivers each line, contrasted with the almost childish qualities of his movements on the couch. Most incredible of all, however, is his terrifying screen presence as he trudges slowly through a deserted corridor or along a dark street, head tilted slightly forward, face fixed in a confused, bewildered expression. Drew Barrymore is also superb as the liberal high school teacher rejected and scorned in a Conservative education system, while Patrick Swayze is excellent in his extended cameo, a smartly observed satire of a self-help guru with a few skeletons in the closet.

Where the movie comes into its own, however, is in its ability to incorporate and deal with a variety of genres. Every movie genre seems to make an appearance, so much so that to categorise the movie as simply a `psychological horror' or a `supernatural thriller' would be an unforgivable insult. Even the movie's portrayal of a high school, whilst unique and original, even bears a slight resemblance to the teen movies of yesteryear, what with school bullies, the new kid in town and an annoying gym teacher. Yet, Kelly never lets his movie sink to the depths of cliched teen drama. Instead, he paints a startlingly realistic portrait of suburban America, interspersed with flashes of sci-fi surreality. The movie never descends into total Lynchian weirdness, yet nothing ever seems quite real.

Donnie Darko may conjure up images of oversized bunnies and watery projections protruding from people's midriffs, yet on an emotional level it is very much human. Donnie Darko is as much a drama as it is a thriller, and a superb character study at that. We are often led to question whether Donnie's visions and actions are the consequence of a paranoid, twisted, drug-polluted mind, or whether he really is experiencing such things. His gradual disillusionment as he realises that there is no hope and that he may have to go through eternity alone is beautifully portrayed, while the sense of peace and inner fulfilment he ultimately achieves is a truly inspirational message.

Without meaning to sound overtly soppy and without meaning to spoil the ending for anyone unfortunate enough not to have seen the movie, Donnie Darko concludes in one of the most mind bending, emotionally affecting ways possible. On a scientific level it will fuel debates for years to come (I have already read numerous different interpretations of the ending on the internet) but emotionally it transcends the conventions of modern movie making. In fact, it soars. The last few minutes, where Tears For Fears' Mad World is played over shots of various characters breaking into fits of hyper-emotion or contemplating their actions, are tremendously moving, while the lyrics (`I find it kinda funny/I find it kinda sad/the dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had') perfectly summarise Donnie's state of mind. Furthermore, the last few lines of the movie, without telling you what they are, are meaningful on so many levels, and mark the end to a film steeped in emotion, surrealism and subtle beauty.

I implore you to watch this movie. It most certainly is not for everyone, and will probably be cast off by a lot of the movie going public as pretentious, artsy nonsense. Donnie Darko only saw a very short, unsuccessful US run and was accompanied with very little hype. Hilarious, heart-rendingly sad, terrifying, profound, intellectually stimulating, emotionally absorbing and thematically relevant, this is by far the best movie of 2002. And for all those wishing to know if there's any American Pie-style crudity, sadly not - although at one point we are treated to a rather interesting discussion regarding the sex lives of smurfs.

3 years ago

Beautiful, terrifying

9/10 I think the main theme of this film was summed up somewhere in the middle, where Donnie is speaking to a not-so-helpful self-help guru and says something to the following effect:

"Yes, I am scared and I am confused. But I think you are the f**king antichrist!!!"

In the end, _Donnie Darko_ is a film about people who feel life and all the emotions within it very deeply. Donnie himself is a basically sweet-tempered (often courageous) young man who is pathologically terrified of loneliness and the thought of spiritual isolation. His quest for meaning and self-discovery drives him to the fringes of our reality, which only serves to isolate him more from the world he loves. The few who understand what Donnie is going through go largely unnoticed (such as his girlfriend Gretchen or a tragically overweight yet remarkable sensitive little girl) or unappreciated (such as Karen, the English teacher whose only sin is trying to show her students that there is no such thing as a true end.)

Of course, this movie far from polarizes its characters (indeed, polarization is the last thing this film wants to accomplish) and the majority are just a mishmash of the beautiful and the grotesque: Donnie's parents, who are at the same time loving and perpetually confused; the aforementioned self-helper Jim Cunningham, who is desperate to spread the lie that keeps him sane to everybody else; and Donnie's sister, struggling between her identity as an adult and her identity as a child. And then there's Frank. All I can say here is that nothing can prepare you for or adequately describe Frank.

Probably the best thing about this movie, though, is its incredible emotional range. It manages to inspire hope, love, dread, laughter, and tears at different points throughout the movie without making you feel least bit like there is a contradiction between those states. The scenes with Frank (especially the one that takes place in the therapist's office against the backdrop of a conversation about the end of the world) are quite frankly some of the scariest things I've ever seen in a movie, as they literally made my skin crawl.

Finally, the performances in this film are exquisite. The talent in this film is top notch and even Gyllenhall is just amazing. That said, though, this film has a dismal future. Combine the fact that the large majority of the moviegoing public is just going to find it unbearably weird with the fact that the movie begins with part of an airplane crashing into a building (this has got to be the very definition of bad timing) and it's pretty clear that this film is going to stay underground. However, if you are looking for a beautiful experience with a unique film, _Donnie Darko_ is just about as good as it gets.

3 years ago

You can't watch it only once

10/10 I first saw this on cable tv. Thumbing through the channels I stopped just as Donnie Darko was beginning. I thought the title was weird, and readied my thumb on the remote channel selector...pointed it at the TV...and it stayed there for the rest of the movie! I couldn't stop watching! I've never seen a movie like this. The movie has a beautiful aspect (especially the end). And there are a few chuckles as well. Contrary to the more critical commentary, there is depth and complexity to the story that kind of requires you to see it more than once. I'm no genius, but what I gathered the basis of Donnie Darko to be is about our part in the deliberate DESIGN of our destiny, and I catch more each time I watch it.

Regardless of anything, sincere thought and expression went in to the making of Donnie Darko. Mixed with skill and technical ability = Art.

A WORK OF ART! In the top 100 movies of all time in my opinion.

3 years ago

A thought provoking masterpiece

10/10 Donnie Darko is a type of movie that provides any viewer a type of material that promotes hard thinking and even harder re-thinking. After the film ends, it's almost impossible to keep yourself from thinking of all the possible way to interpret such a film. It's not quite surreal or full of quirky nonsense, it's more like a set of events, which seem to make sense on one level, no sense on another level, and finally perfect sense on another level. The movie acts as an illusion to what's really going on, its almost pleasantly distracting.

Our main character, Donnie Darko, is a boy suffering from sleep walking, and now what appears to be delusions. He manages to avoid a certain death with the aid of a man in a bunny suit. This twisted bunny also informs Donnie that the world will come to an end within the month. This sparked curiosity and dread in Donnie, who also has every other aspect of a teenager's life to worry about. The film proceeds with the feel of a teen flick, the style of a horror, and a plot suited for a fantasy.

The end of the movie is the part which will make you want to watch it again. You'll think you've discovered what's really going on after the first time, prove yourself wrong on the second time, and will sit and watch every possible detail the third time. Richard Kelly has created an instant cult classic, and perhaps something more than that. Extremely well written with believable characters speaking believable dialogue.

I'll be the first to admit, this film is not for everyone. People will either love it, or despise it with all their heart. I thoroughly enjoyed this film and would recommend it to anyone who has a taste for dark humor and a desire to put the pieces of the puzzle together over and over, long after the film has ended. 10/10

3 years ago