Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi
Director: Richard Kelly
Writer: Richard Kelly
Staring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Mary McDonell, Holmes Osbourne
Those who have said bad things about this film have just not understood it. Donnie Darko is that film where you’ll find yourself watching it over and over looking for the explanation, on the way you will then discover just how good this film is and why it’s rated as one of the best films of all time. It has an amazing cast, a young Jake Gyllenhaal plays the character of Donnie, after he will star in award winning films such as Brokeback Mountain and The Day After Tomorrow. Future Batman star Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jake’s actual sister plays Donnie’s sister Elizabeth. We also get to see the well known Patrick Swayze and Drew Barrymore staring alongside the otherwise “young” cast.
Jake Gyllenhaal plays Donnie Darko, a teenager who has “issues”, he suffers with hallucinations and gets visited by a demonic six foot rabbit named Frank who manipulates Donnie to commit acts of crime. At the dinner table his sister Elizabeth (Maggie Gyllenhaal) tells his parents (Mary McDonell, Holmes Osbourne) that he hasn’t been taking his medication. However later that night due to these visions Donnie escapes death as a 747 Jet engine crashes and destroys his bedroom whilst he’s on a midnight trip with Frank. The mystery grows as Frank tells him that the world is going to end in “28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds” and that jet engine is unknown by the FBI creating the question of where exactly did it come from? All that is known is that Donnie’s escape from death and Franks appearance are two supernatural events that have crossed and are somehow linked.
Donnie attends the local private high school where he meets Gretchen (Jena Malone), a new student who has troubles of her own. They form a relationship and Donnie gets attached, however Gretchen although curious of Donnie’s behaviour is unaware of his visions and his recently committed crimes. Donnie also forms a bond with his English teacher (Drew Barrymore), they share a similarity in which they both have had trouble with the old gym teacher, she plays an important role in the film as she provides an important clue for Donnie. Another key character is “Grandma Death” or Roberta Sparrow, Donnie and his dad nearly run her down a few days after the jet engine crash and she whispers something into his ear. Later on in the film his professor gives him a book that was written by Grandma Death and that proposes the idea of time travel to Donnie, and after reading her book Donnie believes he has all the answers. The rest of the film then fuels on Donnie putting these clues and answers together before he 28 days left, quickly runs out.
This film provides everything from comedy moments to suspense, thrills and gasps. The soundtrack deserves credit and it is complementary throughout as the score is parallel to the scenes. The acting is at a high standard, Jake Gyllenhaal adapts to role of Donnie amazingly well and creates a real attachment between himself and the audience. For Richard Kelly’s first film it is definitely one to remember and one not to miss out on, Donnie Darko will surely be known for many years to come.