Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko ★★★★★

"I hope that when the world comes to an end, I can breathe a sigh of relief, because there will be so much to look forward to."

Finally saw the director's cut of Richard Kelly's cult masterpiece Donnie Darko for the first time. Despite several reviews claiming the director's cut to add nothing substantial to the experience, I thought that the subtext became even richer and more elaborate through the added scenes, contributing different layers to the characters and the wormhole mythology surrounding the central plot that further hint and explain towards the mystery at its core.

Donnie Darko is such a curious and bizarre film; the plot is tight and suspenseful, and it includes so many different themes in its subtext that I struggle to comprehend how Richard Kelly could have been capable of bringing all those different ideas together in such a rich and demanding feature. It's a social commentary on the American education system as much as it is an in-depth exploration of teenage angst and psychological damage.

The cast is excellent. Jake Gyllenhaal is the perfect casting choice for the central teenage character, and the supporting cast is further complemented by the fantastic additions of Katharine Ross, Mary McDonnell, Beth Grant playing a terrifying nutcase, and even Drew Barrymore who always manages to surprise me with her strong presence in this film. The editing, score, cinematography and the screenplay in general are absolutely fantastic.

Upon my first viewing, the complex plot unraveling was a bit too much to handle for me, but it has left an impact upon me that could not be denied for the past few years after my first exposure to the story. Rewatching the director's cut that adds all the necessary links and character dynamics for the full and haunting experience was the final catalyst for me to love this film. It's sad to see that Richard Kelly has never really managed to find an audience again after this cult hit, and I hope that he will one day return to bring us something similarly strong and powerful.

2001 Ranked

Featured in: Great Movies

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