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Donnie Darko is a high school student whose test scores are “intimidating,” whose pose is to be likable and sardonic at once, and who occasionally forgets to take his medication, for unspecified but possibly alarming reasons. His psychiatrist uses hypnosis to discover that he has a nocturnal visitor from the future – a large and demonic rabbit – who leads him on sleepwalking expeditions. One of these trips is fortunate, because while he's out of the house a 747 jet engine falls directly through his bedroom.
The film is set at the end of the Reagan era, in 1988, against the backdrop of the presidential election. Donnie has a vision that the world will end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds – and is prompted to take drastic action as d-day approaches.
The indie film cost $6M to make but debuted with just $110K its opening weekend; it didn’t help that it was released shortly after the Sept 11 attacks. But Donnie Darko is very much worth watching (again). It’s a refreshing, stimulating work – part horror, part teen comedy – offering much more food for thought what's usually served up in indie movies packed with ironic 80's references.
With Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Mary McDonnell , Drew Barrymore, Noah Wylie and Patrick Swayze.
Dir: Richard Kelly / 2001 / 1h 53min / 14A