A Sad but Realistic Interpretation of Donnie Darko

Gizmodo did a mini-review of Donnie Darko, which has just come to Hulu, and the comments are full of raves and critiques of the now-dated, hyper-stylistic film. One rather poignant analysis of the film came from commenter Dr.Nemmo, who appears to come from a medical/psychiatric occupation. (Oh yeah, SPOILER ALERT, in case you’ve not seen the film).

I’ve had a couple of patients like poor Donnie (with hallucinations about lost of control and predetermined paths) which have successfully recovered with olanzapine or quetiapine.

It’s a professional bias, but what I see when I see Donnie Darko is the story of a kid with schizophrenia in its early phases. Reconstructing the story, he is borderline schizophrenic for most of the movie (remember those trips to the therapist), but after the death of his girlfriend and Frank, he suffers a complete breakdown. What we see during the movie is the fragmented recollection of the events mixed with the hallucinations and in the end a delirious explanation for it all.

For Donnie, believing that he died when the plane engine fell on his bed is better to believe that his girlfriend died and that he killed Frank. In non-movie world, we would have a catatonic Donnie with dead friends. It would be a sadder ending than the one that we get on the movie, where he can be a hero and prevent everything from ever happening. Real life doesn’t work that way, ours is a linear life.

Of course, I am biased, and maybe I get to treat the unsuccessful Donnies, while the succesful ones simple die in freaky accidents and we never get to know them but for a short note in some newspaper.

Some of the other commenters are rather harsh on this person, but Dr. Nemmo’s interpretation of the movie is just as valid as any other, and deserves quiet contemplation. It’s kind of sad to know that there are so many real-world Donnies out there.

Donnie Darko (soundtrack)

Donnie Darko (soundtrack) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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