Movie Review: Donnie Darko (2001)

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Mindfuck stories! I love them. Mainly because they make you think. That is why I am such a fan of stuff like “Matrix” and “Inception”. But if you don’t like watching these types of movies because you have to use your brain for once, then you have nothing to be here for. Seriously, shoo! Go away! But you other people, you can stay. Today we are taking a look at a movie that is a mindfuck but also a cult classic.

Bunnies and Rabbits…”Donnie Darko”.

The story of the movie follows young man (high school student) Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal, also roll credits). He lives with his father (Holmes Osborne), his mother (Mary McDonnell), his older sister (Maggie Gyllenhaal, irony) and his younger sister (Daveigh Chase). Donnie is for the most part a normal guy. Except for the fact that he has a tendency to sleepwalk quite a long distance from his house. But one night when a jet engine suddenly bursts through his room (while he’s out because of sleepwalking) he then starts having visions of this large, creepy rabbit named Frank (James Duval). Frank makes Donnie lose touch with reality and commit crimes. Thing is…only Donnie can see him and he doesn’t know where he comes from. And that is where I stop because otherwise I will get into spoilers. This story is like I previously said…a mindfuck. It is complex, weird and…yeah, weird. That is really all that can be said. It is not your typical run-of-the-mill mindfuck. This is one that stands out in the crowd like a large, creepy rabbit at a carneval. This movie makes “Fight Club” look normal! Yeah, achieving that is pretty big in itself. But still, I really liked the complex story…worth thinking about.

The characters…ah yes. No one is normal really in this movie (Except maybe Donnie’s science teacher, played by Noah Wyle). Which makes them really interesting to watch. One thing that also makes them interesting to watch is that they are played by actors who know what the hell they’re doing. I especially felt invested in the character of Donnie, not only was his character very well-written, but Jake Gyllenhaal does one hell of a job playing him…he was excellent. But in general…every character was interesting in one way or another. But Frank creeps me out…a whole lot.

The music…creepy. That is all you need to know. Okay, that wasn’t really fair to you, but I don’t know what to say. It is creepy and cold…kind of like the overall tone of the movie. It fits perfectly for the overall creepiness of the entire movie. And the end theme…the song they play during the final scene…I love that song. I had heard it prior to seeing the movie…but hearing it in the movie made me so happy. Not gonna spoil the scene itself…just saying…search “Gary Jules – Mad World”…you’ll see why I love it and think it’s so beautiful.

The camera work in the movie is excellent. It looks incredibly good and always makes a scene interesting. Richard Kelly did a great job with it. Also…what kind of sick motherfucker would come up with the design of Frank…it is terrifying…STOP!

Now for the reception “Donnie Darko” got. It was overall good reception. It first debuted on the Sundance Film Festival and got a lot of praise there. Then it came to regular cinemas and got even more praise there. Rotten Tomatoes has a “Fresh” cerftification and an 85% positive rating for it. Metacritic has 71/100 as their score for it. Fun thing: Roger Ebert gave it 2,5/4 stars in his original review  but raised it to 3/4 stars on his review of the director’s cut version 3 years later. And imdb.com has the score of 8,1/10 for it and has it ranked #193 on the Top 250 list.

My opinions on a few aspects of the movie are given. It is clever, complex and creepy (The 3 C’s). My final score is a 9,56/10 and a recommendation to buy in combination with the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
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I thoroughly enjoyed “Donnie Darko” and highly recommend it.

Review of “Donnie Darko” is completed.

Still can’t believe I found a movie that makes “Fight Club” look normal.

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