By: A. Jabur
2001’s Donnie Darko is a mind-bending science fiction film directed by Richard Kelly, starring Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal as well as Drew Barrymore and Seth Rogen. The cult classic, which is set in the 80’s, follows Donnie, (Jake Gyllenhaal) a popular, sardonic, and clever teenager who inadvertently escapes a freak accident by sleepwalking. He then begins to have strange visions of Frank, a man in a rabbit costume, who warns him the world will end in 28 days.
This sets off a chain of unusual events, as Donnie tries to figure out how to save the world while dealing with his visions of Frank during sleepwalking spells, his worried parents who believe he is a paranoid schizophrenic, and his new girlfriend.
There is a reason Donnie Darko has become a much-discussed movie throughout the years; the blue-tinted movie captures the audience’s mind with its thrilling, awe-bringing sequences. The protagonist’s fragile state of mind is reflected in the way the film is presented: the dreamy blurriness of the visuals is not unlike a haze one would find themselves in after a restless night of sleepwalking and hallucinating strange figures. The plot twists and turns on itself, as both protagonist and viewer try to figure out what on earth is going on while in a dreamlike, schizophrenic, semiconscious state.
Similar to Fight Club, another cult classic of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Donnie Darko features a vaguely mentally ill, leading man in a surreal, nonsensical, and flawed world- one which the character believes only he can and will solve. Both films were initial flops at the box office, but later gained a cult following. The pair also tend to leave viewers puzzled and clueless as to what just happened upon finishing the movie, searching for meanings, reasons, answers, but strangely fascinated by the perplexing nature of the film, and finding themselves keen on re- watching it.
In conclusion, Donnie Darko is a film I absolutely recommend watching. It’s a film which certainly requires your full attention, and is somehow fun to watch while leaving you absolutely bewildered at the very concepts it asks you to grasp.