Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

so what do i tell the other kids when they ask about you?

tell them that everything is gonna be just fine

donnie darko is still maybe the most brilliant movie i’ve yet to see in my lifetime. on the surface it can be cold and achingly confusing, weaving a plot that hardly leaves dots to even connect. but peeling back it’s layers, reading lengthy articles, rewatching it again and again and again, it proves to be a sickly sweet treasure for the right people who view it at the right time and feel the right way about it

there are so many ways to interpret it and so many things to take away from it. a dark high school comedy. a personal look at mental illness. or my favorite, an otherworldly tale of time travel and alternate universes set in the suburbs of 1988

and in the latter concept, nothing happens by chance. not jet engines falling from the sky, not taking a walk with a girl on the sidewalk one morning, not even finding a wallet on the ground. it’s all a set path, a cosmic joke that could have been repeating endlessly until we witness it unfold for a final time. and the biggest cosmic joke of them all is how it all falls to a troubled teenage boy to save the world

maybe my favorite reason why donnie darko is so special is not just because of donnie himself, but because of the characters in his world. we get glimpses of their own lives where they have their own dreams and goals, but every move they make is a calculated dance that repeats itself over and over again, just waiting for him to make the right decision. the way donnie reacts to the people around him and to his world is directly driven by frank, but also by everyone else. they all have a part to play and nothing is a coincidence. and in the end, a fragment of that old dance lingers within them even though he is gone. a distorted reality that feels like a dream to them all

but the movie itself also feels like a dream to us. and that’s it’s biggest strength. it feels like a nightmare at the edge of consciousness, of feeling the distant effects of sleep paralysis. floating back and forth between incomprehensible concepts and grounded reality, mimicking donnie’s mental state. by the end of the film, the effects of this style are overwhelming and crushing. the way everything plays out and how everyone interacts and intersects has a purpose. even sparkle motion helps donnie on his journey

there are so many things that could be said about this movie (and so many that have been said), but what i feel in this moment is: this is a story of a boy who is destined to save the universe he lives in and subsequently has to carry that weight on his shoulders. he carries it alone. and when his job is finally done, and the 28 days reset, he’s gone but not forgotten. his presence and the looped universe that no longer exists will linger faintly in the world he saved. his destiny fulfilled by choice. a true superhero

i guess some people are just born with tragedy in their blood

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