Two decades after its release, Richard Kelly‘s Donnie Darko still boasts one of the most delightfully mystifying movie endings of all time. Regardless of how impressive your attention to detail is, it’s essentially impossible to fully comprehend every important aspect of the film without multiple viewings: from its exceptionally complex time travel philosophies to its parallel universes, time-bending telekinesis, and everything in between. So, I took the liberty of doing some of the heavy lifting myself so that you don’t have to. Here’s my noble crack at unpacking the film’s marvelously perplexing third act.
Donnie follows Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal), a young misfit who, at the beginning of the film, is out sleepwalking and therefore avoids being crushed by a jet engine that lands in his bedroom. Following his near-death experience, strange things start happening in Donnie’s life, including, but not limited to: the constant presence of a man in a bunny suit named “Frank” that only he can see, the appearance of glowing, worm-like portals, and mysterious encounters with Roberta Sparrow, the old author of a time-travel manifesto.
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