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Donnie Darko
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Reviews & Ratings for
Donnie Darko More at IMDbPro »

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Are you ready for something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT? Donnie Darko.

10/10
Author: gheremond
17 January 2009

This is one of these movies that not just bend but brake virtually every rule of cinematic storytelling in a way so unique, mind-boggling and satisfying at the same time, no else can follow. Do not expect to see another movie "inspired by" or "of the same sort" as Donnie Darko. It is one of a kind and that makes it even more special. Richard Kelly set an impossible standard for himself with his very first feature, it will be extremely difficult to top this one, if ever.

The story is, well, simply inexplicable! This is the selling point of the movie. It blends a number of diverse elements, 80's nostalgia, teen angst, depression, insanity, death, romance, sacrifice, comedy, tragedy... and a little bit of time traveling by the way. And did I forget to mention the giant rabbit? How could all these combine into a meaningful and coherent whole? As it turns out, under the commanding hand of the writer/director, the result is far from coherent, but flooding - literally - with meaning in all kinds of levels. The finished product is like looking at a painting. It isn't the original intend of the artist or the distinct parts of it that are the most important, but the emotional impact it causes on the viewer. There is a point about two thirds into the movie, were emotion just takes hold and doesn't let go until its incredible, chilling finale that has and will continue to fuel endless discussions. Is it easy to understand? Certainly not, at least with the usual sense of the word. Is it easy to feel? Definitely! And this is one of the reasons why DD has become such a cult phenomenon. Think of it as David Lynch but on one of his very good, lucid days.

In terms of execution, the movie shines in many ways and is not hampered or handicapped by its small budget. Performances are great from both lead and supporting actors. Patrick Swayze gives his best in years and Mary McDonnell is simply devastating. But the real star here is Jake Gyllenhaal, who totally owns the film, conveying emotion and maturity with exceptional confidence. The screen couple of him and Jena Malone also has great chemistry and makes you deeply root for the characters and their dark fates. There is also a wonderful soundtrack, complete with vintage 80's tracks and a haunting score by Michael Andrews. The closing sequence with Gary Jules' "Mad World" playing easily qualifies as one of the most memorable pairings of music and film.

One certainly needs to see this movie at least three times to start making up his mind about what actually happened. But this is beside the point. Some things are better left unexplained. Donnie Darko is above all else an experience, one that provokes the mind and the heart, an existential fairy tale and an unforgettable journey in the dark alleys of the human soul.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Amazing

10/10
Author: Nicolai Kaltchev from Bulgaria
17 August 2008

Its really hard to say something else about this movie except that its just amazing.I watched it recently and just don't know what to say.It affected me so much that i can watch it over again and again and it just won't get boring or something like that.The whole idea of the movie is so philosophic and distracted from the real world and in the same time so easy to see, so easy to feel.The moment when he finally understands what he needs to do its so highly romantic and tragic(I even cried at that moment and I'm not afraid to say it), but after all its a kind of beating your own instinct for survival.But i don't know a person who,in case he had everything friends,family and love would let them fade away.The meaning of the life is in having people you love and care about and you are sure they are OK. Because at the end if your really close person has died or got hurt and only you have the chance to make it all right,would you let this chance go away....?

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

this is how minds become bent

10/10
Author: campbellz from United States
15 August 2008

I'm not one for top 10 polls, or top fifty or what have you, point in case, such things are too subjective and stir up useless debate. However, if I was making my own top 10 poll, this movie would certainly sit comfortably on it as far as the best of the decade. Storytelling this dense and compelling transcends intellectual engrossment. This movie runs in the vein of films like 'The Fountain' and even shows shades of renaissance noir as in 'Memento'. Jake Gyllenhal rips this film apart as he ebbs and flows from fits of hostility to drowning in pure delusion. His performance in Darko flies under the radar as one of the best in recent memory. This is a film that deserves several repeat views, and is deserving of equal amounts of debate and analysis. It is also demanding to the nth degree, it will leave you spent as the credits begin to roll but also dreaming. If this film doesn't haunt you, I'm not sure what will.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

paraphrase on the gospel

9/10
Author: tha-13 from Denmark
1 August 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie is widely misunderstood. Most critics fail to see, that this is not a David Lynch wannabe in a spooky-comming-of-age-in-the-80's-flick. This is a modern fairytale about the passion of Christ. Notice that this boy is tormented by the anxiety of loneliness in the face of death (the prophecy from the rabbit, that the end of the world is near). The meaning of the narrative as well as spiritually first appears for us and the troubled young man as choice of sacrificing for love takes the gloom out of life and the movie. The turning point of the movie is placed when the young lovers a attending a screening of Raimi's "Evil Dead". In the theater the tormented youngster decides to follow the rabbit (down the hole) and burn the fake evangelists house down eventually disclosing the hollow moralists lies and diabolical misleading of the school kids (remember the scene where the young man calls the moral-preacher "the Antichrist" in front of the school). As he leaves the movie-theater to follow the advice of the rabbit, the young man passes under the billboards, where the two main features of the cinema are announced: The last temptation of Christ - the evil dead. When these two movies are placed together, they point towards the message of the movie - when you are tempted to think, that dying is always meaningless even for the ones you love, you are a victim of the anxiety, that even tried to get a hold of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. But as the young man gives life back to the girl he loves, by paying with his own (placing himself in the room, where the jet-engine crashes) - he dies with a smile, he sacrifices himself - in the spirit of Christ - hence giving meaning to a cold and superficial world of shallow psychiatry and cheap morality. Watch it again - and this time let the fairytale of the oldest truth outshine the appearance of the surreal. This is not Lynch - it's Pecinpah drunk on joy.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

mad world , possibilities

10/10
Author: day-27 from China
3 July 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When the Mad World was smoothly embedded at the end of the movie, I was totally moved. And The Butterfly Effect quickly rushed through my head. Both of them got a protagonist who had the so called mental problem and they did things like traveling through the time and finally chose a sacrificed way to achieve the universal happy-ending (of course except him), full of mysterious things, and remanded you the life is full of possibilities.

This kind of films is trying to deliver a supernatural story in a logical way, so they ended with a yanking to the stark reality, but the stark reality which should be extremely sad became a happy-ending because the whole movie told us there were ways worse than that. And this mad world still full of possibilities.

There are a lot of intellectual conversations in this film: God, the belief of god, time traveling, English literature, love, fear, and life. I love this movie, mostly for its mind-stimulating story-telling and incidentally for the song Mad World.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Disturbing. Confusing. Twisted. Everything a movie should be.

8/10
Author: ineeddsl55 from Earth
9 August 2006

Donnie Darko is no movie. It's an experience that transcends anything you have ever felt in front of a screen. Once it's over, you won't stop thinking about it. The music will stay in your head, the ideas will keep you awake, and the characters will stay alive. This is everything a movie should movie. No one should miss this. Though there are flaws, the incredible crafting of the film will distract you from them. Go see it.

Jake Gylenhall and Patrick Swayze are brilliant. Richard Kelly may have screwed himself with this. Why? Because this is probably the greatest movie he will ever make. If not, Kelly, you are my new favorite filmmaker. Love,

Gerald (wink)

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

random questions

Author: schmigeg from Pittsburgh, PA
6 August 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Spoiler Alert Hey, just saw the director's cut and I am more confused than ever! One of my nagging questions is that if donnie was disturbed before, then how can the whole mental "defect" be blamed on the tangent universe and the role he was placed in (i forget the assigned name)? Wasn't he sleepwalking beforehand and seeing Dr. Thurman before oct. 2nd as well? the philosophy of time travel says that the visions and mental stuff was attributed to his role, but i'm pretty confused with it all! also, why didn't gretchen or his English teacher remember anything after the tangent universe collapsed...others had dreams but these two seemed to remember nothing. and what is up with the cut on his neck? i noticed that before but they actually mentioned it in the director's cut this time...

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6 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Frustrating. Inaccessible. But brilliant!

10/10
Author: DAVID SIM from United Kingdom
24 October 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Donnie Darko may be the cultiest film to emerge this side of the millennium. It did disastrously at the box-office, leaving many people unsure how to take its far out ideas and blinding layers of surrealism. But that hasn't prevented it from becoming a highly regarded cult classic. Many people enjoy deconstructing its messages and possibilities, and it became so popular that just three years later a Director's Cut was released. It's that resonant with people.

DD is a difficult film to write a review about. I'm uncertain how to put it into words because I don't want to get this wrong. It's a film that changes my perceptions with every viewing. When I first saw it, I quite enjoyed its wealth of ideas. But on subsequent viewings, it didn't seem as satisfying and makes less sense the more times its watched. But that doesn't change the fact it has a rich and varied screenplay. I didn't always know what DD was, but it never ceased to amaze me.

DD is the type of film David Lynch might have dreamt up. There does seem something Lynchian to its storytelling. Eccentric smalltown folk. A layer of bizarreness that hovers around the narrative and eventually punctuates it. And most importantly, the sly dissection of smalltown America.

Jake Gyllenhaal is Donnie Darko, and in an opening that mirrors the beginning of Lynch's Blue Velvet, Donnie is found waking up in the middle of a country road. His bike is off to the side. He smirks and moves off back into town.

DD is set in the October of 1988. Donnie is an outspoken young man with deep emotional problems. His psychiatrist Dr Thurman (Katharine Ross) is making little headway with him. And he has the disturbing habit of avoiding taking his medication.

One night, Donnie dreams about a giant rabbit called Frank. When Donnie dreams, he sleepwalks. He goes outside. Frank is waiting, and informs him the world will end in a month. Just as Donnie learns this, an engine turbine from a passing plane crashes through his bedroom. This one bizarre accident sets off a chain reaction of increasingly odd events. All the while the countdown to the end of the world continues.

DD is one of the most unusual films I've seen in a long time. It's not always clear what director Richard Kelly is trying to say with his debut feature, but his direction is engaging enough to keep you involved throughout this bizarre but often quite fascinating film.

If the film's intentions are not always clear, the fine cast helps to breathe life into it. Why Jake Gyllenhaal ever agreed to sign onto to such an unusual film is frankly a mystery but his performance really can't be faulted. Gyllenhaal is certainly an actor with a future, but I think he works best when he's served by a strong screenplay. I still have yet to decide if DD's script is as profound as it's made out to be, but there must have been something that attracted Gyllenhaal to it. And he makes the most of his screen time.

Donnie's unravelling mental state is very ably communicated by Gyllenhaal. His insolent attitude is quite startling on occasion. And the role of DD is certainly unusual. I mean the very idea of a boy's dreams of a giant rabbit making dire prophecies about the end of the world is sure to raise more than a few eyebrows. But somehow Gyllenhaal pulls it off admirably and brings lots of interesting ambiguities to the scenario. Is it all true, or just the overactive imagination of a very disturbed young man?

Richard Kelly supports Gyllenhaal with an imaginatively chosen cast. At the head of the line is Jena Malone as Gretchen, the new girl in school and Donnie's (sort of) girlfriend. She brings a tough, forthright attitude that matches Gyllenhaal's every bizarre step of the way.

And then there's Drew Barrymore as Karen, a freethinking teacher at Donnie's school. I'm not convinced Drew Barrymore is all that much of an actress. But I enjoyed her performance here. Karen's independent thinking is quite well suited to Barrymore's often aloof style of acting. It's the first time I've ever perked up whenever she's around.

And you mustn't miss Patrick Swayze's hilarious turn as a self-important motivational speaker. His speeches about the polar opposites between love and fear are very amusing. Donnie's cynical debates over Swayze's life plans are fun to watch too. This may be the closest thing to a good performance Patrick Swayze has ever done.

DD is a film rich in ideas. It touches base with many radical concepts. From time-travel to parallel realities and even the life-paths of each individual person. Its certainly nice to see a film in this day and age with more than one idea in its head. But sometimes DD feels like it has one idea too many. Which only adds further complications to an already unclear screenplay.

I was never exactly sure what new direction the film was going to pull me in next. Or even what Frank is supposed to represent. And then there's the ending. DD has a finale so mind-bending I wasn't sure if it was conceptual brilliance or purely a screenwriter's cop-out.

But nonetheless, I'm giving DD 10/10. If its a film that doesn't always make narrative sense, it at least succeeded in making me think. Quite a bit actually. The different avenues it chooses to explore are never less than fascinating. Its got a wonderful selection of the 80s greatest hits to sift through. And the cast add so much drive and energy that you can't help but be swept along. This film may always be an eternal mystery, but it's that element that makes Donnie Darko so fascinating to behold.

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7 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Most over-rated rubbish I've EVER watched

1/10
Author: (yousuf_seifi@yahoo.co.in) from India
18 July 2010

well, IMDb Rating:8.4. Seriously?

OMG!I couldn't hate myself for watching this movie at first. Its a sheer waste of my time and intelligence. So quickly i sum up up my review before wasting more time on this piece of crap ------------------------------

Positives: None (Not even if I see the movie with a magnifying glass to notice one) -----------------------------

Negatives:

- The entire movie. I don't understand why this movie was even made

- Poor use special effects in showing the rabbit

- No script and story : I beg people to let me know what this movie was all about? I believe even the writer is clueless of what he wanted to portray

- Terrible acting

----------------------------

Final Verdict:

This Plot isn't intelligent. Creating a movie nobody would ever understand (unless its explained in a book) is not hard to do. This film is the dullest, most over-rated rubbish I've watched!

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8 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Forget what Richard Kelly says...

8/10
Author: Shannon White from Canada
28 February 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Forget about what Richard Kelly says about the "Philosophy of Time Travel", and Donnie as a "Living Receiver" whose duty it is to close the "Tangential Universe" and save the world. The movie is about satisfying a restless soul's desire for justice and redemption. It's about Frank. In the future he runs over Gretchen, probably due to alcohol and careless driving. He is tormented by his crime, and his soul, upon the opening of the time portal (caused by his own tormented soul?), goes back to seek justice. Although, one could imagine him going back to prevent the accident, that would not assuage his need for justice. He seeks to use Donnie to carry out his own execution. Why does he pick Donnie? Perhaps Donnie, in that previous future, was Gretchen's boyfriend, maybe even at the scene of the accident sans gun. Perhaps Donnie's house just happened to be where Frank's soul and the airplane engine ended up as the wormhole opened up in the past, requiring Frank to rescue him. One could imagine Frank's soul forever looping from the future to the past, each time having to ensure that his own execution would take place. His quest for justice extends to the crime of the Swayze character. But each time thru the time loop, things change, and on this last time thru, Darko finally understands Frank's torment, seeing himself, not as the tool of justice but the cause of injustice, leading Gretchen to her death. In the end, he understands time travel and achieves what Frank achieved, having his soul pass thru the wormhole. Upon arriving back in the past he stays in his room to be killed by the engine. Thru his death, Gretchen maybe lives, Frank never kills her, and is no longer doomed to repeat his passes thru the time loop. If it was Frank's guilt that originally opened the wormhole, then Darko, by allowing himself to die, saves the world.

This is only my interpretation. Most stories are about personal crimes and the search for redemption and/or justice. Why would this movie be any different?

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