"Donnie Darko is a coming of age film. Donnie is at a time between childhood/adolescence and adulthood. He is struggling with the concept of applying childhood logic to high school/adulthood indoctrination, that is illustrated through adult attempts to look at the simplistic as complex which paradoxically attempts to simplify the adult world (for example via the love-hate dichotomy) when it is not. Adolescence is long-blamed for difficulties within the individual's inability to adjust rather than the schizophrenic organisation of the adult social collective. Growing up is difficult; being grown up is when we all give in to untruths in order to accept the world view of those who set the rules and over which we have no control." - courtesy by Vanzmotorbike
"Fascinating to see just how literally the average viewer/reviewer experiences the role of time travel in the film. Much more interesting to include a metaphoric reading of its function in the film.
Donnie's schizophrenia is his response to a "mad world" in which all human action takes place in an apparently unstoppable procession. Any teenager with enough confidence and intelligence can see the inevitable results of the actions of the individual characters and the society in which they play out, the overwhelming hypocracy. Time travel is a potential solution that makes enough sense to offer hope of salvation for an increasingly desperate Donnie. Only by travelling ahead of the crap served up to him as reality might Donnie be able to save himself and his world from "the hostile reality" he perceives as beyond his control in the present.
The slide of the school towards vacuous box-ticking activities, the pathetic offering(s) of jim Cunningham (so perfectly close to pure cliche that we get that 'of course' sensation on discovering the depth of his corruption), the danger facing Gretchen, the isolation of Susita (sp?) [Cherita], all appear to us, as to Donnie, as inexorable. Donnie finds himself squarely in the fallen world. Unable to return to the innocence of his younger sister nor advance to the adjustment of his elder, he becomes tragically and painfully aware of the fate awaiting us all. He 'invents' Frank to ease the acute despair and isolation such awareness engenders.
Time travel is an extension of Frank in the sense that it actualizes an escape for Donnie, an escape whose reality is reinforced by the existence of both Roberta Sparrow and her book. This also moves Donnie closer to the 'real' world and the notion of success in it. And yet, however possible it may be in the theoretical world of science, whether it can save Donnie is doubtful. Look what it's done for Roberta.
In the primary reality of the film Donnie is as helpless as Oedipus in avoiding his fate. As a teenager, heroic anti-hero of higher intelligence and great compassion that Donnie is, he pushes the bounds of reality all the way and, thanks to the power of (cinematic) story telling, manages to tear the sky open just wide enough for us to stare up helplessly at our own addiction to clean, linear explanations. There are stranger mysteries than an unaccounted for jet engine, something Donnie would agree with as he goes off to sleep."
Posted by: david zoh on Sep 28, 05 Source: Metaphilm.com