DONNIE DARKO: The Hughes Verdict- A Short Review

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Donnie Darko



Out Now To Rent And Buy

What’s it all about

Donnie is an unlikely hero who just might save the world. It’s October 1988, in the Virginia suburb of Middlesex. When Frank, a grotesque giant bunny (possibly imaginary), leads Donnie out of his house minutes before a plane smashes through his roof, he not only saves Donnie’s life but also warns Donnie that the world is about to end. Over the next few weeks, Donnie falls in love with Gretchen (Jena Malone) and tries to figure out what his life means.

The Hughes Verdict

             “every living creature on this earth dies alone”
                                                                                               Roberta Sparrow aka Grandma Death

Not even The Riddler could have come up with this twisty puzzle for Batman to solve.

If any film from this decade had to take the award of “I didn’t get it” from many of its audience then this would no doubt in my eyes win hands down.  Its been nearly nine years since this was released and yet still there are raging debates on many forums about what this film is about.  Even for me to try and be clever and give my assessment on the plot would be a waste of energy and effort as every fan have they own theories at what kind of ride that ppor Donnie is going on, one ride that will lead to unforgettable trip for himself and the viewer.

28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds, the world will end!  So says Frank, the man in a Rabbit suit that comes to Donnie (Jake Gyllenhaal), a disturbed young man who may be suffering from some sort of mental problems.  If that revelation was not enough to shock the troubled lad, then a jet engine mysteriously crashes through the roof of his bedroom which luckily for him, he was too busy sleep-walking and meeting up with his new found furry friend.

The fact this happens in the first minutes of the film goes to show that what you are about to see is something special.  A movie that cries out originality and born to be a cult fav for many years to come.

The most difficult review I will ever write, the complex tale of a mixture of many film genres is as bold as it is impressive.  Donnie may be a troubled lad but deep down he is a good kid.  His expensive trips to his psychiatrist may be a waste of time, and he does have problems with authority, but Donnie does show some hints of intelligence which shine through his troubled mind.  What is brave of this film is that Donnie does not come from a family of freaks that explains his illness.  His family are hardworking and basically normal, cliche free from the usual Hollywood trappings.  The fact of the matter is Donnie is ill because he is ill, like many other young people in this mad world….

While the talk of mental illness may make this film sound depressing, its by no means not.  There is plenty of heart and as I have written, the plot covers many aspects that most films would struggle to fit in many of their running time.  We have a romantic plot with Donnie meeting the very charming Gretchen (Jena Malone), some wonderful dark humour that will have you in stitches and then of course when Science Professor Kenneth Monnitoff (Noah Wyle) gives Donnie a book titled The Philosophy of Time Travel the film takes a different turn all together.

We even get a “child porn” sub plot which the uncomfortable subject is expertly summed up in one dark and very awkward sequence of young girls dancing in slow motion to a Duran Duran song.  Its a creepy moment that director Richard Kelly serves on a very distasteful plate, but while that seems like a criticism it is not, as the pay off we get towards the end of the subplot, makes you realise the point Kelly was trying to get across.

The film  also contains some homage’s most notably the E.T. bike scene, and the acting is flawless with the late Patrick Swayze in a great memorable cameo.

Now and again a film comes along that simply takes your breath away and way before Mad World is ringing around your living room, at the films climax, you will either love or hate this movie.

Not even this years poor ill advised sequel could ruin the films reputation.  Ambitious, haunting, compelling and so darn perfect, the noughties for me only belonged to one film, and that was this, a story of one man and his rabbit!

Rating: ★★★★★


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About Ross Hughes 564 Articles
Since my mother sat me down at the age of five years of age and watched a little called Halloween, I have been hooked on horror. There is no other genre that gets me excited and takes me to the edge of entertainment. I watch everything from old, new, to cheap and blockbusters, but I promise all my readers that I will always give an honest opinion, and I hope whoever reads this review section, will find a film that they too can love as much as I do! Have fun reading, and please DO HAVE NIGHTMARES!!!!!!

1 Comment

  1. A very difficult film to review mate, but you did it proud. Clever use of the phrase ‘mad world’ too! Donnie Darko is a masterpiece, a superb and very intelligent film like no other before it or since. I can’t imagine there are many movie fans out there who don’t like this film. Not sure if I should admit this, but I actually enjoyed the sequel. Might have to do a Guilty Pleasures on that one!

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