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Donnie Darko
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Donnie Darko More at IMDbPro »

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Perhaps I was intoxicated at the time, but...

Author: OscarBewildered from Some garret in France, surrounded by strange sounds.
4 April 2003

…I thought this film was dull. I understood it, though it was a challenge, and saw its point, but I couldn't help feel unsatisfied at the end. Perhaps I wasn't meant to; I usually don't feel satisfied at the end of any film. (Save Jean-Pierre Jeunet's `Amelie', everyone liked that)

Richard Kelly is quite young, so we may forgive him for being so skittish with his plot, but not his debauched characterization. Donnie, the protagonist, veers from suicidal freak to happy-go-lucky in a matter of seconds. He's on medication and is crackers, but it's still not forgivable. It is important for us to feel connected with the main character, and here it is possible only for deranged teenagers with a giant rabbit for a friend. These particular persons are a minority.

I quite liked Drew Barrymore's acting in this; but then again I hated Charlie's Angels and am always up for giving people a second chance. (Save Kate Bosworth)

In short, the movie was well acted, well-cast (Particularly Gyllenhaal, whom I will always applaud) and is delightfully dark. However, like other delightfully dark items such as Black Forest Gateau, the thick veins of the movie are choked by a sour chocolate sauce. There are too many subplots. Now I love subplots, don't get me wrong; they are one of the three Messiahs of the film world (the others being Marty Feldman and Hitchcock) but here it is absolutely ridiculous. There is a jet, time travel, Christina Applegate (who is ridiculous enough by herself) a giant rabbit named Frank, the 80's for chrissake, and something about water coming out of people's chests which evaded me completely on the first viewing. The whole thing is like a drunken trip round a disco first time round; you're supposed to take it with a pinch of salt and not really do anything. Don't think about it, and you'll be cynical. Do and you'll be lost.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

You will be disappointed, I promise you.

Author: greenpolyester from London, England
3 January 2003

A friend, whose judgement I normally value, recommended this to me as a 'must see'. Set in 1988, Donnie Darko is the tale of a troubled American High School Student (yes, yet another one). After 40 minutes of this I was still waiting to be grabbed like my friend was. And here's the rub - you won't be grabbed, believe me. The true test for any piece of fiction is that you care about the characters, or, at the very least, care enough to find out what happens to them. Be honest folks, did you really care about what Donnie's problem was? Of course not. He was a bland, unsympathetic cipher. A lot has been said of the performance by the lead, but I've seen Keanu Reeves turn in more heartfelt and engaging performances. The writer/director has obviously stuck by his 'Youth Films 101' coursebook to a T. There is one excrucitating tacked-on scene where Donnie and his mates discuss the deeper significance of 'The Smurfs'. The director clearly liked Tarantino's deconstruction of 'Like A Virgin' in Reservoir Dogs and has attempted a weak copy himself. NO ONE ever had that conversation (and certainly not teenagers in 1988) and to pretend otherwise is just smug revisionism. There is another scene where, to the strains of 'Head Over Heels' by Tears For Fears, the world goes into slow motion. The viewer expects something to happen. Like the rest of the film, nothing does. Drew Barymore and Patrick Swayze play minor parts. Why? Who knows: they certainly brought nothing special to the table. Set in 1988, the 'special' effects mimic the era also. Strange, translucent 'watery' worms emerge from people (think 'The Abyss'). And what does it all mean? Should you last till the end, you will be very, very disappointed. Chronicle of a death foretold - how original. Don't believe what the 'respected' critics have said about Donnie Darko. It says nothing new and does so in an unoriginal manner.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Harvey Skybanger

Author: Andrew Hutchings from Calne, England
14 December 2002

Definitely obscure interesting and offbeat, a cross between 'Harvey', David Lynch material, and a mind-blowing cocktail, 'DD' is worth the effort, but is not quite the ride it's made out to be by other reviewers. It is 7 out of 10; very good, but does lose its way a little, after a good start and before an intriguing, even haunting, conclusion. I must confess I didn't fully understand what it was all about, but the fact that it makes you think about the possibilities of time travel, and the facts of death and schizophrenia, make it thought-provoking enough to stay with you for a long time. The 80s music, although not my favourite era, was perfectly toned for the events taking place, and the finale of 'Mad World'as the film reached its conclusion was one of the most memorable moments in recent cinema. On the plus side, I thought most of the acting was credible. On the minus side, there's Patrick Swayze. Although well-cast, he is sickeningly revolting! A film worth seeing twice, but not in the same league as 'Mulholland Drive' for sheer weirdness...

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

the emperor's new clothes

Author: juliebacon from new zealand
29 July 2002

I saw this movie at our local once a year international film festival and frankly thought i was sitting in the company of moron filmgoers who pretty much loved it. this movie is clumsy, could POTENTIALLY have been great if maybe David Cronenburg had made it, but most of the time it was cringey and simplistic and derivative (uh huh, patrick swayze does not even come close to tom cruise's turn in magnolia, and it just seemed an obvious rip off).

This film was recommended to me by one of my local video store guys, and um, i should have ignored it because he's into anime, ugh, and i hate that stuff, so there ya go...

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

The Emperor's New Clothes

Author: cdf212 from New York, NY
29 October 2001

I'd like to advise any one who has read this far down on the additional reviews page to disregard any positive reviews you have read about this movie. I strongly believe it is a waste of time. The director, Richard Kelly, comes from USC film school, which trains him to take what is successful in other films (i.e. Magnolia, Being John Malkovich, to name a few) and slap them together. Unfortunately, he doesn't add anything else to this mix except for a convoluted, plotless story and TV sitcom, one-dimensional characters. I'm sure many people have commented on how the plot was "confusing" or "complicated" - it is. That is all it is. It means nothing. And then, in one scene Darko yells at a teacher who is trying to get him to label a situation as either "Love" or "Fear". He says that life is more complex that that duality. Ironically, every character in this film is either good or bad. There is the mean, knife-wielding bully, the sweet girlfriend, the good, daring teacher, the mean, narrow-minded teacher, etc. etc. Watch any other film besides this one, please. Don't support this schlock.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Watch "Donnie Darko" only if you are impressed by its 'cult film' status.

Author: FilmCriticLalitRao from Paris, France
9 August 2014

What does one observe while watching a film depends on how the viewer watches a particular film ? However, there are certain elementary things which all viewers can notice easily. These qualities are related to the way a film progresses, how its narrative structure is composed and what is the general feel about it. Donnie Darko is one film which provides ample chances to viewers to detect its essential qualities. Most viewers would not waste much time to conclude that it is rather slow, episodic in nature and popular only due to its status as a "cult film". What do these three primary qualities leave for those viewers who have not yet watched it ? This is a key question to be discussed by all intelligent viewers but there is hardly any secret when it is revealed by some viewers that "Donnie Darko" is a story about a high school student and his psychological frame of mind to deal with senseless acts of violence. The worst thing about "Donnie Darko" is that actors Patrick Swayze and Drew Barrymore have been given too small roles which do not do any justice to their acting talents. Having the name of a literary giant associated with a film is a blessing in disguise for a good film but "Donnie Darko" is so pointless as a film that even the mention of British author Graham Greene does not help much to elevate this film's chances of success. Lastly, Donnie Darko is to be watched only if a viewer intends to ascertain whether it truly deserves its cult film status or not.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Analytical Wordplay review

Author: Xcstacy from Canada
21 June 2009

I'm not sure if there is anything I can say that is both new and unique compared to what has already been said from someone else, so I am going to try to do something different and hopefully hasn't been done before. You will either enjoy it or I'll fail miserably and you can send me messages on how bad it was.

Mesmerizing movie, deep story lines, enthralling characters, mystified portrayals, provoking masterpiece, extremely thought provoking, hard thinking, photographic beauty, sounds of passion and feeling, terrifyingly real, futuristic past and present, real time well placed strategic scenes, every action has a reaction, every word has a meaning, every scene has a story in its own, perfect ensemble, perfect directorial debut, emotional range and undeniable out of body experience, literally, real? Fake? Future? Past? Present? Insane? Genius? Incredible analytical wordplay, strong emotional ranges from everyone, relatable and distinguishable, gloriously eternal, never forgetful, illustriously touching, everlasting.

Did you understand what I was trying to do or say? If not don't worry I don't either hopefully you enjoyed it though.

10/10 one of my all time 5 favourite movies.


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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

How is your depth perception?

Author: abgkasjlkasjla from Denmark
11 June 2008

Repeated viewings of this is part of the requirement to fully appreciate this. Also included are genuine effort to get into it, thought applied to putting it all together, and obviously sufficient attention span. Reading the FAQ and visiting the site for it, and working through the puzzles found there, also help. I don't mean to scare people away from this, more to inform. This is like a jigsaw puzzle, and not a simple one at that. When the pieces do all come together... well, I imagine that it's satisfying, I honestly can't claim it's happened for me yet. But I really can't find anything in this to criticize. The plot is interesting, and develops throughout. The pacing is deliberate, nothing is rushed or dwelled upon in a manner it shouldn't be. The acting is flawless. The philosophy and food for thought are well-done. Editing and cinematography are excellent. They're experimental(that, in fact, is a word that really applies to this entire film) without being flashy or over-stylized. The music is amazing and always well-chosen. The production never shows that its budget was little by today's standards. The effects are astounding in every case. Kelly definitely deserves his work being noticed. The overall concept is well-thought out, and while this is certainly not the first depiction of it, even on the silver screen, it is the most "realistic" and consistent one, and it's near the top of the list as far as how engaging it is(The Butterfly Effect does, for me, beat this in that respect, but I will admit that the writers of that did do stuff that was more cool than it was sensible, if not very often). I understand that the Director's Cut is the version that largely explains what happens, whereas the Theatrical(which is the only I've seen thus far), to a wider degree leaves it up to individual interpretation. There is a bit of disturbing content, and there is some language, as well as dialog that should perhaps not reach younger ears. In any event, this is hardly meant for children. I recommend this to fans of Richard Kelly, the others involved in making it, and dark science fiction that you, when or if you watch, must be an active participant of. 10/10

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A mind blowing thriller

Author: barrys82 from Mexico
28 December 2007

Great movie, one of the greatest I've ever seen. Its an impressive and mind blowing film with an interesting, original and complex story about a troubled teenager plagued with visions about a giant bunny who persuades him to commit crimes and told him that the end of the world is near. I has an excellent cast, Jake Gyllenhaal As Donnie Darko giving a astonishing performance, his best ever. Maggie Gyllenhaal was good, Patrick Swayze and Drew Barrymore very convincing and Noah Wyle with a very brief participation. This is already a cult movie. A real masterpiece. recommendable for everyone, well maybe not for everyone, just for those who are open minded.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A Genre Fusing Masterpiece Of Cinema

Author: benjamin_lappin from England
29 May 2007

Lynchian? Perhaps this is the only way in which a summary of Donnie Darko can be compressed into just one word. This film is an absolute mish-mash of varying styles and genres, but has the added bonus of succeeded in its amalgamation of styles which quite frankly makes it one of the great films of not only the 21st Century but perhaps in cinematic history. Am I over-hyping this film? Perhaps not nearly enough.

A surreal blend of dark humour, science fiction, teen drama and high school angst, Donnie Darko is a mind tripping, thought out journey through the life of one adolescent as he comes to terms not only with the arduous task that is puberty, parents, school and friends, but that his perceived delusions and eccentricities will make him the only one that can save the universe from complete destruction. This may sound like a garbled mess but it works wonderfully due to the way that the director, Richard Kelly, manages to tell convincingly all aspects of this story in a way where nothing feels, forced, nerdish or out of place.

Guiding Donnie through the time ridden paradox that is this film is be-musingly a six foot tall bunny rabbit named Frank. While Franks identity may become somewhat clearer throughout the course of the film, his presence works on several levels (as indeed does the film). Not only is he a mental figmentation but he is also a manifestation of the teenage angst that raged (or will rage, depending) inside all of us. The need to rebel and break free of rules, moulds and confines to cope with the fear that comes with having to grow up. On top of this there are many referential notes to make with Frank, that first and foremost of "Watership Down", which itself is present in the film make reference to how Donnie and Frank mirror their rabbit counterparts fiver and the spectre that haunts him with tales of the worlds demise. There are more obvious analogies, the simplest of which is Alice In Wonderland and how the White Rabbit provides the means for the hero to return to where they are supposed to be. Unfortunately, it's far too difficult to go into too much detail without having to ingrain a spoiler at the top, because many of the films key notations are inward and secular, as they constantly repeat themselves in varying formats, but by the same token provide a film which can be interpreted by all viewers in different and personal ways.

Donnie Darko succeeds because it gets the small things right. The made for cinema cut is slightly more Lynchian than the directors cut due to the absence of some notable moments and thereby lacking the continuity, and so I'd have to recommend the Directors Cut due to it being somewhat more coherent (although that's not essential) and providing a deeper explanation as to the events which transpire. Moments where Donnie is playing on an Arcade machine, and the importance of placebo's are key plot moments but are lost on the viewer without the Directors Cut. But whichever version the subtleties of plot and character developments keep the viewer hooked. The interesting twists and turns of the story whether it be human drama or science fiction are exceptionally well written and perfectly acted. Suffice to say this film works on more levels than one, and will leave a deeply profound affect on all those that want it to.

Donnie Darko was recently credited (if all the critical acclaim and general love by all fans of cinema wasn't enough) as being in the top ten of fifty films you must see before you die, and to be honest I couldn't have phrased it better myself. There is little to say without spoiling the film for those that haven't seen it and there is little I can say which hasn't already been said about this film. It is for want of a better phrase a modern day masterpiece, an exercise in cinematic achievement highlighting an ability to tell stories which many thought was all but lost. Few films are worthy of pedestals, and while the amount by which tens are brandished around on IMDb, few films are worthy of a ten. Donnie Darko deserves it all. Maximum.

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