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The West Wing
DONNIE DARKO, 2001
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze and Maggie Gyllenhaal
Donnie Darko is an outsider with schizophrenia. One morning he awakens to find himself in the middle of a golf course but that’s not the weird thing. An aeroplane’s engine has crashed onto his family’s house, directly on his room. And strangest of all is Frank the Rabbit, who talks to Donnie about Time Travel and destroying things.
This film is just amazing, honestly just go and see it right now, it is flawless, the acting, the plot, the cinematography, the music, it’s just all perfect.
This could easily have been the number one time travel film, but I had to give it a close second to ‘Back to the Future’ even though they both tick all the boxes for amazing films one had to come out on top and Donnie just missed out on the top billing in the end. Alas.
What’s so good about ‘Donnie Darko’ you cry, well, how about the acting debut for both Jake Gyllenhaal and Jena Malone, both of whom are just amazing actors, who always seem to choose the best films to be in. And this is the film that got them both rolling. Not to mention the fact that they are actually pretty close to the ages they are meant to be portraying, so often teenager roles are given to people who are clearly in their mid-twenties but not in this film.
Whilst Frank is talking to Donnie a jet engine falls out of the sky and crashes into Donnie’s bedroom. No one in the house is injured, but they are all obviously shaken. No one knows where the engine has come from and no airline has reported a missing jet engine.
The next day Donnie meets Gretchen Ross (Jena Malone), a new student at Donnie’s school, she takes a liking to Donnie and he to her and after an awkward conversation Gretchen agrees to ‘go’ with Donnie. Throughout the film Donnie is seeing a psychiatrist about his sleep walking and his visions. Although he often fails to mention the destructive behaviour that Frank tells him to do, such as flooding the school toilets. Which leads to by far the best lines in the film by two little school girls the next day;
Girl 1: "I heard there were faeces everywhere."
Girl 2: "What are faeces?"
Girl 1: "Baby mice."
Girl 2: "Awww."
Best line ever!
From here there are some great revelations about characters, a lot of speculation about whether Donnie is insane or not and a lot of talk about Time Travel and destiny. I really don’t want to give too much away as this really is a good film and as I said to start with you should just go and see it right now.
Made on a budget of just US$4.5 million the production values are superb as is the costume design, I’m thinking mainly of Frank’s costume here. Before this film I never though a rabbit could be so scary and cool looking.
Full appreciation must be given to Drew Barrymore who, as Richard Kelly himself put it in the DVD commentary on the film; Drew Barrymore became the god-mother of the film by supporting it through her own production company Flower Films. This prevented the film from becoming a straight to video release. She also gives an incredible performance as Donnie’s English teacher Ms. Pomeroy.
This film is basically all about the characters; most are misunderstood or confused about where they are in their lives. But most of all Donnie is the one asking all the questions and getting no answers, until the end. And then we are left asking the questions and having to watch the film over and over again until we can figure out our own answers.
The cult following that this film has is well deserved and it is definitely the kind of film you have to watch several times and concentrate and pay attention to all the details. Luckily it’s a very enjoyable film and once again I highly recommend you go out and buy this film immediately. You can thank me later.