I thought Jake Gyllenhaal played the part of Donnie to its full potential, Donnie Darko is a film about emotions, Donnie is on an emotional quest for meaning to his visions and his self-discovery pushes the fringes of reality. He is alone and isolated from the world he is meant to know. Patrick Swayze disturbed me to a certain extent as the self-help guru Jim Cunningham, Drew Barrymore who was executive producer for the film appears as teacher Karen Pomeroy and Jena Malone is brilliant as Donnie’s troubled girlfriend Gretchen Ross. James Duval played the part of the rabbit Frank and is as memorable as the film itself.
The film inspires the idea of hope and self-sacrifice Donnie sacrifices himself to ultimately save others. The acting in this film really shines through and the performances from the actors are nothing short of astounding. This film is unique and beautifully made and is mind blowing experience. I like the way the film leaves you to draw your own conclusion. Its a film that has to have multiple viewing to fully understand the extent of the plot, it is an emotionally charged sci-fi film but with the setting of the all American high school and a suburban dysfunctional family.
The song Mad World used in the end sequence of the film really draws the film together and is almost haunting it works really well with what the film is trying to achieve. The audience is often led to question if Donnie’s visions and actions are real or in fact a figment of his troubled paranoid mind? As the film draws to an end the camera pans into each character and we see how emotionally charged they are almost full of regret or contemplating their own meanings or actions. Even the name Donnie Darko is suggested in the film as some kind of super hero name. The film is emotional, meaningful and powerful and really is a must see movie.
Donnie Darko: cast and crew interviews from The Directors Cut DVD
I think these statements by Richard Kelly and Jake Gyllenhaal really summarise what Donnie Darko is all about and why it has become such a cult film.
“The best movies are ones that people talk about on the way home from the theatre”
Jake Gyllenhaal: Donnie Darko
“In the simplest terms it’s a journey, a journey about discovering who you are. The irony of the whole thing is hopefully by the end its not only Donnie who realises it but the audience in a way. They have to go back and watch it again, It forces you if it forces you at all to come to your own conclusion about what its all about and that’s the coolest thing, its like an individual experience for everyone, its not about one thing”.
 Blandford S. Keith Grant B. and Hillier J. (2001)The Film Studies Dictionary, Arnold Publishers, London.
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