Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko ★★★★½

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

This review may contain spoilers.

-You're such a fuck-ass.
-Haha, what? Did you just call me a fuck-ass? You can go suck a fuck.
-Oh, please tell me Elizabeth, how exactly does one suck a fuck?

Director's Cut

Richard Kelly's debut is a remarkable picture that weaves a tale of psychological schisms and multiple, intersecting timelines with Lynchian atmosphere and brilliant storytelling finesse. As Donnie's premonitions gradually reveal a deterministic worldview - one in which the life force of individuals stretches out before them like time and fate manifest in a watery, physical form - we come to understand that the fatalism of the era. When a student asks the dubious faith-based healing coach, "How do I know what I want to be when I grow up?"

And he responds, "Find what it is in the world that makes you feel pure, unconditional love and go towards that." We sense the bullshit leaking out of his every pore. It saturates every word of his responses. Donnie's (hilarious) fatalistic response - "I think you're the anti-Christ" - is his way of resisting against the notion of self-determination and choice. People in Donnie Darko - especially Donnie himself - are transformed into the "Manipulated Dead" - waking corpses that shuffle about trucking along a path determined by someone or something else.

Time in Donnie Darko, ironically represented by water, is the prime driving force. The bunnyman that haunts Donnie's visions is, eventually, revealed to be the hapless teenager who runs over Gretchen. In reality, Frank never truly had any control over Donnie, time did. It shuttles him along toward the climax as he desperately attempts to decipher how the world will end. So, when Donnie decides to accept his fate at the end of the film, remaining in his room to be squashed by a jet engine, he's merely embracing the fatalism that's been at the core of his character all along. And, he's finally understanding that despite his neuroses about time and his ability (or non-ability) to shape it, he can't ever truly win.

"O let not Time deceive you,
You cannot conquer Time." - W.H. Auden

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