Donnie Darko (2001)

True classics never get old!

It was the turn of the millennia when Richard Kelly created sci-fi drama Donnie Darko, which boats one of the most complex and compelling stories of this century. It was also the moment cinema discovered Jake Gyllenhaal, who portrays Donnie, a schizophrenic high school kid. And his problems begin when a mysterious figure wearing a giant bunny suit tells him that the world is coming to an end.

I have enjoyed multiple viewings of Donnie Darko, a film that has stood the test of time and matured with age. There’s always something new to pick out from this fascinating film, as it’s open to interpretation. Donnie’s disturbing visions could very well be a product of his mental illness, or there could be something more sinister in the works, involving time-travel and alternate realities. But within the science fiction is a nicely crafted coming-of-age story, as Donnie experiences a storm of angst-stricken emotions. He feels trapped in his suburban environment, surrounded by parents and teachers who don’t understand him.

Donnie Darko has a satirical element that I think is more clear now than it was at the time. The film seems to poke fun at the American suburbs, something which is explored in films like American Beauty (1999). However, once again this is just another way to look at the film. There is really no clear-cut answers, which is one of the reasons why it’s such a great film.


The film refuses to comply to standard narrative conventions, delivering an intelligent, thought-provoking story that makes your head spin. I won’t lie, the film is complicated. There’s so many scientific and philosophical ideas, but the brilliance of the film is that it never gets lost, or bogged down with giving the audience too much information. It’s up to the viewers to work out the mysteries for themselves.

Donnie Darko is as strange as it is remarkable, a unique film that’s hard not to like. It’s a haunting movie that gets under your skin, made more so by a cover of Tears For Fears’ ‘Mad World’, which perfectly summarises the film. Donnie Darko is one of the best cult movies ever made, providing great style and scientific drama that will leave you forever intrigued.

Quoted: “Donnie Darko. What the hell kind of name is that? It’s like some sort of superhero or something.”

Directed and written by: Richard Kelly

Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Drew Barrymore.

Distributor: Metrodome Distribution (UK) (theatrical)

Run Time: 113 min



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