Billy's Film Reviews.

A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!

Donnie Darko – 2001

darkoWhen a website prompted me with links to films “similar to this”, it was obvious that they were clutching at straws, because there really isn’t anything like Richard Kelly’s brooding, mysterious drama “Donnie Darko”. Captivating, distressing and twisted beyond belief, “Donnie Darko” is a film that was viewed for most people my age, when they weren’t old enough to fully understand it and thus, appreciate the mastery on show.
This isn’t stating that upon re-viewing the film that is 100% comprehendible, but that is what makes the piece such an incredible one – it demands attention and imagination, leaving nothing on a silver platter for it’s audience.

Donnie Darko (the superb Jake Gyllenhaal) is a troubled and confused teenager who hallucinates on a regular basis, subconsciously being influenced to commit vandalism and anarchy in the midst of the night.
He seeks therapy, takes medication and attempts to control his issues personally, but the surreal powers that be are too domineering to overcome. After an incredible accident occurs and affects the Darko family, a strange series of events ensues, sparking mystery, suspicion and caution amongst the townsfolk, family and even Donnie himself.


For what it is, I don’t think “Donnie Darko” is the 53rd best film ever made, but that’s a debate for another day. Ultimately, what is a review or a rating more than a humble subjective opinion?
However, there is no doubt that for anyone born in the late 80’s and early 90’s, this was an incredibly present film within your upbringing.
It may not have been viewed regularly, sometimes not at all, but a lot of people were aware of “Donnie Darko”; it had an incredibly level of popularity amongst the demographic of those eras, and upon re-watching it just the other night, it surprises me a lot.
This is a scarily dark and twisted picture that haunts it’s audience, sticking around for a long time after it concludes. It is so different and bizarre, it really is an affecting film to watch.

Jake Gyllenhaal is one of Hollywood’s finest acting talents, and after watching his flawless performance as the perplexing soul that is Donnie Darko, it is no surprise that his career has been successful and illustrious.
There are many recognisable faces amongst the supporting cast including sister Maggie Gyllenhaal, Holmes Osborne, Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze and even a very youthful Seth Rogen. It’s fantastic to revisit a film after such an extended time period and see these now-famous faces from 10+ years ago. donniedarkobdcap3_original

Now, the rabbit. “Frank” as he is called, would have to be one of the scariest rabbits in film history. It’s not only the ghostly presence of the beast at night and in the shadows that is unsettling, the voice with it’s mixture of volume, pitch and distorted tone adds so much threat and eeriness to the character. Commanding and scarily influential, Frank is a masterfully crafted character that is arguably the film’s best element.

Unearthing classics from your youth is something rather special. Like this particular picture, the act of revisiting these films has a strange feeling of time travel associated with it. You rediscover memories, places, people and other associated factors that accompany the film.
For me, “Donnie Darko” took me right back to my friend’s back room on a rather pleasant evening. We watched it in darkness, not understanding the majority of it, but nevertheless, we were transported into a whole new world within cinema.
This is a picture that is ironically timeless and equally as, if not more effective upon seeing it through a maturer set of eyes. It will entertain, provoke thought and disturb you like nothing else.



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