For this month’s first review for Genre Grandeur – Time Travel Movies, here’s a review of Donnie Darko (2001) by Reut of Sweet Archive
Next month’s Genre has been chosen by Abbi of Abbiosbiston.com We will be reviewing our favorite Alternate Love Story movies. In order to get a better idea as to what this genre might include, check out this post by Abbi from last year. Please get me your submissions by the 25th of November by sending them to firstname.lastname@example.org Try to think out of the box! Great choice Abbi!
Let’s see what Reut thought of this movie:
Donnie Darko (2001)
Donnie Darko is controlled by weird visions of a creepy giant bunny rabbit, causing him to commit a series of crimes and tells him the world will end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 12 seconds.
Donnie Darko is a brilliant film, which was, ironically enough, filmed in 28 days. Written and directed by Richard Kelly, it became a cult film for any horror sci-fi lover. It’s deeply mysterious and messes with your mind, and there’s obviously no one way of interpreting it. On one hand, Donnie Darko tells the story of an odd boy who suffers from demonic hallucinations that cause him to do some weird shit. Donnie attends weekly psychiatric treatments followed by hypnotic methods aimed to reveal the core of his disturbance. He comes from a good and loving home, goes to school every day, and even dates a new student named Gretchen. Donnie has some serious issues, and is presented as just another troubled kid.
On the other hand, it seems that our dear boy, Donnie, has an important task to execute ever since a giant metal artifact has landed in his room. As explained in the film and on a book called The Philosophy of Time Travel, written by one Roberta Sparrow (a senile old lady nicknamed Grandma Death in the film), the occurrence of a metal artifact appearing is a sign of a dangerous tangent world created. Donnie’s apparent role as the Living Receiver is to guide the artifact back to the primary universe before the tangent universe collapses, causing the destruction of all existence.
The Living receiver is often granted with fourth dimensional abilities, such as telekinesis, strength, and mind control. He or she are also tormented by nightmares, horrific visions and hallucinations during their spent time on the tangent universe (e.g. the creepy bunny rabbit). No one really knows how and why the Living Receiver is chosen, however, its living surroundings, called the Manipulated Living, fear him and aim to destroy him.
The fearful bunny rabbit figure is a messenger, a.k.a the Manipulated Dead, introduces himself as Frank. He is someone who died on the tangent universe and has the ability to move through time and connect with the Receiver through a fourth dimensional construct. He’s the one telling Donnie what to do.
The film has an entire website dedicated to analyzing and explaining the story of Donnie Darko, which you can find here. Very interesting stuff!
Focusing on that monstrous bunny suite for a second… there’s something about a bunny rabbit figure that immediately connects us to a world of delusions and daydreams, and when saying this, I am mainly referring to the famous white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. Much like in Alice, Donnie is also led to a somewhat of a rabbit hole to find a mysterious (and imaginary) other world, only his is much darker, leading him to violent expeditions (not your ordinary scenario of just eating the wrong side of the mushroom).
Other than a mind fucking plot, Donnie Darko has other things to be praised for. Its cast is well picked and is absolutely brilliant, starring Jake Jake Gyllenhaal as Donnie Darko, Maggie Gyllenhaal as his sister Elizabeth, Jena Malone as the girlfriend Gretchen, Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze and Noah Wyle. Every characters shines its own dark light on the story, well equipped with a clever script and a somewhat cynical attitude.
As for the awesome awesome soundtrack… Set in 1988, Donnie Darko is followed by a great set of tunes from various artists like, Tears for Fears (Head Over Heels is one of my favorite songs ever!!), INXS, Joy Division, Pantera, and Eco & the Bunnyman, all contribute to the film’s excellence. You have to love the film for the music alone!
If you are more of a reader than a film watcher, there’s a Donnie Darko book which contains the full screen-play, an in depth interview with writer and director, Richard Kelly, added pages from The Philosophy of Time Travel book, photos and drawings, and an introduction by Gyllenhaal himself. There’s also a video game if you’re not into films or books. Your call.