Donnie Darko (2001)


Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller


Richard Kelly




Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, James Duval, Mary McDonnell, Holmes Osborne, Katherine Ross, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Daveigh Chase, Drew Barrymore, Noah Wyle, Patrick Swayze, Beth Grant, Stuart Stone, Gary Lundy, Alex Greenwald, Seth Rogen, Ashely Tisdale


After a giant bunny called Frank (James Duval) tells him the world will end in 28 days, troubled teenager Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) begins to commit acts of vandalism and worse. 


There are movies you watch when you want to relax and switch off your brain, and movies that need you in your best shape possible, not to understand them but only to try understand them. Donnie Darko falls into this second category and, although I wasn't in the mood for a lot of thinking when I watched it, I loved it. And I can't stop thinking about how fantastic this film is.

It's got one of the weirdest stories I've seen in awhile but in a good way. It is complex and deep; in other words, it's that kind of story that requires multiple watches for you to understand it (reading online theories also help a lot). At the same time, though, it feels like it is going nowhere. Still, as the story unravels, I got drawn into Donnie Darko's strange journey, I was utterly enchanted by it, blown away by the twist that basically came out of the blue, and surprisingly satisfied with the strange conclusion.

The story, however, isn't really that important because Donnie Darko really is a brilliant character study. The main character, Donnie, is a troubled young man with a great intellect and a lot of imagination who may suffer from schizophrenia and struggles to get along with his family, teachers and classmates. He is essentially the portrait of teenage isolation (and it was very easy for me to relate to) and Jake Gyllenhaal's performance is mind-blowing good. Also, the film kept me wondering whether Donnie's actions were the consequences of a sick mind or he was actually experiencing those things.

The supporting characters, although they are nothing more than a bunch of stereotypes, all have their purpose, that being showing how painful growing up can be. My favourites? Patrick Swayze's self-help guru with some skeletons in his closet, and Drew Barrymore's liberal high school teacher fired because she does not fit into a Conservative system that doesn't challenge and stimulate the young minds.

At last but not least, kudos to Richard Kelly for achieving such greatness with his debut. He was able to keep the tension at its highest from start to finish and he created a dream-like atmosphere that tremendously benefits from the brilliant cinematography and the perfect musical score.

As if all that wasn't enough, Donnie Darko has enough of memorable, haunting and thought-provoking scenes (I mean, isn't' that Mad World sequence spectacular?) that will keep you thinking long after you finished watching it.


  1. I'm glad you liked this so much! I did too. I always find something new about it when I rewatch as well.

  2. I didn't love this movie. However, I'm willing to say I need to see it again. It has the feel of a movie that needs to be watched more than once and for the viewer to be, as you say, in your best shape possible.

  3. The last second of the movie is my favorite. Mary McDonnell said somewhere uncanny combination. Uncanny I believe because of the light in the dark. It is dark. Actually too fatalistic. Or more generously stoic. A resolved martyr king who would save his corrupt society and dysfunctional family though it spells doom. And more importantly, the girl is saved and recognizes the mother. Love made in the cemetery on All Hollows Eve puts her in the family way. The boy reaches out cluelessly underlining how oblivious we are in the dream. Interestinly, Gretchen probably never existed. A new girl picking out misanthropic Darko? She is a Gretchenfrage probably.