Donnie Darko is a unique film that defines genre lines and weaves a weird, dark and sombre tale with a supernatural and sci-fi beat.
The plot focuses on Donnie Darko, a troubled teenager, who has visions of a demonic bunny named Frank. Frank’s appearance coincides with Donnie sleepwalking one night and avoiding being killed by a plane engine that mysterious fell from the sky and landed on his room. Frank manipulates Donnie into committing crimes in the lead up to ‘the end of the world’ which Frank warns will come in 28 days,6 hours,42 minutes and 12 seconds. In an effort to find answers, Donnie looks in to time travel as a possible way to avert the apocalypse.
I found the sci-fi elements of the film, time travel and controlling your own destiny, interesting and are explained somewhat; We have a basic outline of what time travel is and how it works, which is explained in the film by professor Monnitoff and the portals which Frank shows Donnie while he’s in the theater, the translucent blobs that jut out from people(it’s explained what those blobs are via Roberta Sparrows book).
What we do not have is an explanation as to why Donnie and only Donnie can see Frank, the translucent blobs or the portals in the first place. This may have been the film makers way of blurring the lines of what is ‘real’ in the film, Is what Donnie is seeing part of supernatural activity tied to time travel or just a sign Donnie mental illness(thought to be paranoid schizophrenia) has taken a greater hold on his psyche, we’re not really sure one way or the other. There’s also the fact that once you learn of Franks origins, you wonder why Donnie was able to see Frank in the first place when he doesn’t ‘actually’ meet him till near the end of the film.
Even with those flaws, they’re still pretty cool concepts to have in the film, I just wish the filmmaker did a better job explaining certain things
The acting in the film is pretty good: Jake Gyllenhall is great as Donnie, Maggie Gyllenhaal is pretty good as Donnie’s sister and as they are siblings, it makes the interactions between Donnie and his sister feel more genuine.Patrick Swayze is great as the snake-oil salesmen Jim Cunningham and the film was the debut for a relative unknown Seth Rogen.
Donnie Darko, overall, is a fascinating yet flawed film that doesn’t elaborate a whole lot on its sci-fi elements but is backed up by decent drama, fantasy and mystery elements. It’s a film that is worth checking out (if you hadn’t already) if you like films with a mix of genres; it’s worth taking a look at.