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Donnie Darko Essay

1250 words - 5 pages

Donnie Darko In recent years, Hollywood has specialised in churning out mainstream
trash; generic fodder not even fit for the cutting room floor. Yet
despite these movies' shortcomings, they continue to enjoy success at
the box office. Sequel upon sequel, photo fit remake upon photo fit
remake, frequently taking the box office by storm whilst
simultaneously relegating smaller independent projects to the now
relatively unheard-of arthouse cinemas. The tragedy is that the
independent filmmakers are often those with the most talent; the most
creativity; the most flair. One such filmmaker is director Richard
Kelly, who saw the release of his
scifi-drama-horror-tragedy-comedy-romance-thriller Donnie Darko last
year. After reading a few rave reviews for the movie, I decided to
check it out to find out what all the fuss was about.

Donnie is a seventeen year-old boy with major emotional problems. He
suffers from a psychological condition not dissimilar to
schizophrenia, and lives most of his life in a medication-induced
daze. We watch as Donnie meets Frank, a six foot tall rabbit which
predicts the end of the worlds. Returning to his house, Donnie finds a
jet engine jutting out from the side of his bedroom. The remainder of
the movie follows Donnie's coming to terms with the ghostly presence
of Frank in his life, the purpose of his existence, and the fact that
the world will end unless he intervenes.

Without giving too much away, I can safely say that Donnie Darko is a
mind-blowing experience. And I use the word "experience" in its truest
sense. From the opening shots of Donnie's suburban hometown, through
to the satirical take on Middle American high schools, the movie is
incredibly involving on many levels. In fact, each frame speaks to us
on more profound terms than the majority of arthouse films would claim
to do. This is, in part, due to the impeccable performances by each
and every member of the cast. Jake Gyllenhaal, a relative unknown,
delivers a subtle yet emotionally charged performance as Donnie
himself - the scene in which he tells his psychologist of his various
childhood traumas is made both funny and moving by the haunting way in
which Jake delivers each line, contrasted with the almost childish
qualities of his movements on the couch. Most incredible of all,
however, is his terrifying screen presence as he trudges slowly
through a deserted corridor or along a dark street, head tilted
slightly forward, face fixed in a confused, bewildered expression.
Drew Barrymore is also superb as the liberal high school teacher
rejected and scorned in a Conservative education system, while Patrick
Swayze is excellent in his extended cameo, a smartly observed satire
of a self-help guru...

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