Cellar door

by Suw on July 23, 2003

I don’t want to write a review about Donnie Darko. It wouldn’t do it justice. It would be just too linear. Too done before.

Instead I want to just enthuse. Jake Gyllenhaal, despite a dyslexic's nightmare, is amazing as the eponymous Donnie. There are times, as he gazes up through his eyelashes, half grin on his face, intense and brooding, when he looks just like Malcolm McDowell from A Clockwork Orange. That sense of foreboding, that something really, really bad is going to happen very, very soon.

Then suddenly, an interruption and the moment has evaporated. Donnie is again, just a teenager, albeit a troubled and schizophrenic one. Gyllenhaal’s performance is eerie, almost as much as Gary Jules? version of Tears for Fears? Mad World. The film, Gyllenhaal’s performance, Jules? cover, they’re all haunting, disturbing, beautiful. They’re going to get under your skin and stay there for a long while.

It’s a slow film to start, I’ll admit, but the way that director Richard Kelly rifles through the subjects physics, philosophy, teenage emotional trauma, religion and mental illness without ever skipping a beat, and without talking down to his audience, makes for a captivating watch. The explanation of the possibility of time travel is tossed into the mix without so much as pause, the philosophy of fate vs. self-determination, the question of whether we truly do die alone. There’s no exposition in this film at all, which makes it all the more fascinating.

It’s not often that I see a film where I reach the end and realise that in order to understand it fully, I have to go back to the beginning again. The film is not only circular in plot, but emotionally circular too. As it brings you round to the conclusion that’s the beginning, you find you want to follow the path you know now is set out for you again. You want to stay there, in that loop, forever.

Even if it does mean endlessly dealing with a six foot rabbit called Frank.

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