Richard Kelly’s psychological thriller tells a fascinating story on a bright but troubled young man, who suffers from a mental illness. After narrowly escaping death by a falling jet engine, Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) experiences repeated visions of a six-foot tall rabbit named Frank.
The grotesque giant rabbit warns Donnie that the world will end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds. He then encourages Donnie to commit seemingly random acts of vandalism, including flooding his school and burning down Jim Cunningham’s (Patrick Swayze) house.
Donnie is an emotionally troubled teenager, who is trapped in a world where teachers, parents and other adults want to simplify everything into two extremes – fear and love, right and wrong, Republicans and Democrats.
Kelly has skilfully directed this movie by allowing the viewer to experience the insane and hallucinate visions from Donnie’s point of view. The director also makes great use with the 1980s soundtrack, in particular the scene when he pans the camera to each of the characters – Magnolia-style – to Tears For Fear’s Mad World. This indeed is a strange and troubled world we live in.
Donnie Darko has been described as a high school movie directed by David Lynch (made famous by Twin Peaks) with themes on time travel, love, sacrifice and existentialism. The movie presents paradoxes never fully explained and a cryptic storyline open to multiple interpretations. A modern cult classic, with exceptional performance from Jake Gyllenhaal and a breathtaking cinematography, creating a dreamlike atmosphere that sets the mood of the film.