Movie Review:Donnie Darko

-- Josh Mackler бо04

Rarely has a story about a schizophrenic adolescent obeying a giant imaginary rabbit proclaiming the impending apocalypse been conveyed so effectively. Donnie Darko, directed by Richard Kelly, does not merely tell the story, it takes the viewer along for the ride. Donnie Darko, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, is a suburban high school student living during the late nineteen-eighties. He lives in a town called Middlesex, a place bursting with satire and twisted irony.

Donnie's unstable mental condition has previously made him destructive, but he is receiving therapy and taking medication to suppress his illness. Apparently the medication is not working, since it seems to conjure his big bunny friend, Frank. Frank, who appears to be a man dressed in a demented bunny suit, saves Donnie at the beginning of the movie from being smashed by a falling airplane turbine engine, so Donnie owes Frank his life. Frank gets Donnie to do "bad things," which range from flooding his high-school to torching a perverted writer's house. Somehow Donnie gets away clean every time, although in the end it does not really matter, because the world will end by the end of the month.

If the movie has not started to warp your mind yet, just give it a bit longer; it will. Donnie begins to experience odd time travel phenomena, which puts all other time travel movies to shame. All the nasty paradoxes caused by time travel are somehow compensated for by the unusual ending, which will not be elaborated on here, but the viewers will understand where I am coming from once their minds get a chance to regain their footing after being slapped silly by the conclusion of the film. The explanations of time travel, and the resolution of what would appear to be paradoxes is far above that of any other film.

There is an endless slew of events which occur during the progression of the movie, including the realization that Donnie, no matter how screwed up he is, still has more common sense than most of the citizens of Middlesex. All adults in this quaint suburban town have haphazardly adopted a seminar called Controlling Fear, lead by Jim Cunningham, played by Patrick Swayze. The whole Controlling Fear seminar is laughable, but eerily familiar to all those who remember the late eighties. The movie's ability to reproduce the late eighties is astounding and includes an exceptional soundtrack. Donnie Darko seems to be the only one who has the guts to tell everyone how they are being shortsighted by accepting the Love-Fear idea without question.

The only aspect of this movie which could be criticized is its tendency to be categorized as a horror film. The scenes with Frank are made to seem as if Frank is some sort of spawn from hell, ready to lunge at Donnie and disembowel him at any moment. The reality of the situation is, that Frank could not even touch Donnie if he wanted to, because they are separated by some sort of dimensional field, and, besides, Frank never desires to hurt anyone, he simply wants destruction. The inability to distinguish this film from a horror film at times seems to draw people from it who would otherwise enjoy it. Regardless, Donnie Darko is a twisted yet extremely humorous depiction of a world not too far from the truth, and should be enjoyed by anyone with an open mind and inquisitive nature.