Donnie Darko (2001) – Encore Review


“And what if you could go back in time and take all those hours of pain and darkness and replace them with something better?” – Gretchen

Number of Times Seen – Twice (9 Sep 2014 and 29 Nov 2020)

Link to original reviewHere

Brief Synopsis – A boy who’s life as saved by coincidence sees visions of a large rabbit which advises him to commit criminal acts.

My Take on it – This is a film that I avoided for years and finally watched 6 years ago.

I was quite impressed with it at the time.

In my quest to gain more familiarity with films featuring Jake Gyllenhaal, I decided to watch this again.

They do a wonderful job here creating a story that is quite engaging from start to finish despite the complex nature of the premise.

the choice to create a story here that is filled with mixed genres works well because it is able to add so much mystery to everything that is happening.

The viewer (along with the characters) are kept in the dark as to what is really happening and not knowing whether one is dealing with a sci-fi film, a psychological drama, a psychological horror film or even a deep philosophical drama adds so much to the mystery of it all.

Gyllenhaal is great in the title role and shows how great an actor he can be with this kind of character who is thrust into situations where he doesn’t even know what is real or just part of his imagination.

The characters aren’t developed at all and this seems deliberate here in order to try and find a way to emphasize the fact that they are al meant to be stereotypes and archetypes of the different kinds of people in small town America.

The film is able to utilize the special effects really well which adds so much to the ambiguity of the story since everything that happens can be seen as being both supernatural or possibly just psychological in nature.

Bottom Line – Really engaging film that works so well due to the complex way that it all plays out. The film is able to mix together various genres along the way that help make things even more enjoyable to watch because of the way that it keeps the viewer (along with the characters) guessing as to what is truly happening. Gyllenhaal is great in the title role and gives a very intense performance because it’s so easy to want to try and help this teenager sort things out and differentiate between reality and whats in his mind. The characters are all purposely underdeveloped and surprisingly that actually helps in this story because they all fit different kinds of stereotypes and archetypes that the plot wishes to emphasize. The special effects are great and enhance the ambiguity of it all because we never truly know what is real and what is just part of the main character’s imagination. Highly Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – At the wrap party for the film, Seth Rogen and Jake Gyllenhaal agreed that they had no idea what the movie was about. (From IMDB)

Rating – Oscar Worthy (9/10) (no change from original review)

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