Donnie Darko (2001)

R   |    |  Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller


Donnie Darko (2001) Poster

A troubled teenager is plagued by visions of a man in a large rabbit suit who manipulates him to commit a series of crimes, after he narrowly escapes a bizarre accident.

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8.1/10
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  • Jake Gyllenhaal in Donnie Darko (2001)
  • Beth Grant at an event for Donnie Darko (2001)
  • Jake Gyllenhaal in Donnie Darko (2001)
  • Jake Gyllenhaal and Maggie Gyllenhaal at an event for Donnie Darko (2001)
  • Richard Kelly in Donnie Darko (2001)
  • Donnie Darko (2001)

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2 December 2001 | evilmatt-3
9
| Beautiful, terrifying
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.

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