Donnie Darko (2001) Review

Donnie Darko is a troubled teenager who narrowly escapes a very bizarre and life changing accident. He sleepwalks and has visions with an imaginary friend that is a man in large rabbit suit named Frank and is manipulated to commit a series of crimes.


This film has been on my must watch list for at least the past fifteen years, like seriously I am sure that is how long I have owned the DVD. So I have eventually managed to tick it off that list and joined the amazement of everything Donnie Darko. I couldn’t get the rabbit voice out of my head, that was some creepy voice! It pushes the boundaries of psychological films and I have to admit that I had no idea how it was going to end. That ending managed to blow my little mind so very much. Probably even more impressive that I had never actually come across any spoilers of the ending and I feel that was truly an achievement which meant I was as shocked as anyone watching for the first time.

Donnie is a very complex teenager, I mean I guess we could argue that all teenagers are complex. However Donnie doesn’t get on with his family, teachers or classmates seemingly doing things on purpose just to annoy them. When he meets Gretchen Ross it looks as though he could slightly change his attitude and that she could help him. Although this does not bode well with Frank who then seems to get him to go more in the other direction of destruction.

Throughout the film we are given a countdown this is supposedly for the end of the world, starting on 2nd October 1988 Frank informs Donnie that it will be over in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds (to be exact). This is then used as we travel through the events occurring on these days in his life. Donnie has meetings with a psychiatrist Dr Thurman who believes his hallucinations and Frank are due to being a paranoid schizophrenic. Another character he influences if Jim Cunningham a local motivational speaker who he manages to embarrass during a school assembly and the outcome of this is ends rather badly for Cunningham.

I have to say the cast for this film is truly fantastic Jake Gyllenhaal is absolutely outstanding in the leading role and really does deserve all the hype surrounding his performance. To be able to switch across all of the different emotions and often within seconds in a scene must be a truly tough task. His real life sister Maggie taking on the role of his sister within the film as well, albeit a rather small role. My knowledge surrounding the film was actually very poor as I had no idea that Patrick Swayze and Drew Barrymore were even in it. Also a small more like cameo role for Seth Rogen which was also very unexpected. I thought Swayze was the standout in the smaller roles given the nature of his character being very different to what we had previously seen from him. Jena Malone is an actress that has had a very varied career and is dependable to say the least.

So basically this film blew my mind and that ending was just on another level. I had no idea which direction it was heading in but I certainly did not see it coming at all. Will certainly revisit this in the not too distant future.

11 thoughts on “Donnie Darko (2001) Review

  1. Ah you know, another one of my absolute favourites and I think you’ve been so lucky not knowing much. But, saying that, the ending is so open to what you think it means as well, you’ve got that going for you – when avoiding spoilers.

    How good is everyone? I have a feeling it was one of Seth Rogen’s first major film roles (I might be wrong) but the whole cast really excels. What a piece of cult classic cinema, and Jake and Maggie literally playing brother and sister!

    Liked by 1 person

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