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The Characters in Donnie Darko Are Isolated, Confused and Many Are Unable to Cope with Reality. Richard Kelly Has Presented a Disturbing Portrait of Human Existence and Interpersonal Relationships. Discuss.

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In Richard Kelly's controversial cult classic, Donnie Darko, the characters are isolated, confused and many are unable to cope with reality. The film presents a potentially disturbing portrait of human existence in terms of a dual reality. The interpersonal relationships displayed in the film are complex and present a disconcerting view on such relations between people. The characters in the film all share this inner confusion and inability to cope, and yet, on the outside, they are all different and appear to be handling their situation in different ways.

The main character in the film is Donnie Darko himself. Donnie does not fit into the middle class, conservative community that he has been bought up in. He appears to be the epitome of everything that the people of his community are not. Donnie feels isolated from this seeing himself as an outsider, highly intelligent and provocative at school. Donnie is alone and sometimes disoriented in his daily existence until he meets both Frank, a six foot man dressed in a Halloween rabbit costume, and Gretchen, a new girl at school with a broken family whom he befriends. These two relationships are founded on need and mental confusion. Frank the rabbit is also Donnie's sister's boyfriend but in two different times, Frank before and after his death. Donnie's uniqueness can sometimes be explained by his referred mental condition, that is he hallucinates the image of Frank dressed in his Halloween costume. Donnie is coerced by Frank to carry out destructive behaviour, such as flooding the school and burning down Jim Cunningham's house. Donnie is also led by Frank to the conclusion that a parallel universe exists in which Donnie has a significant part to play in determining the outcome back in the original universe; Donnie can choose to save himself, or to save the one he loves, Gretchen.

Gretchen is Donnie's normality; she is a simple character who accepts Donnie despite his obvious differences to other boys at school. His very volatile world is less so when she is in it. They balance each other out as she finds herself somewhat isolated because of her family background. The sequence of events in the film significantly alters as a result of Donnie falling in love with Gretchen. If Donnie had never met Gretchen and developed a relationship with her he would have never discovered the tangent universe and would never have been driven to murder in a fit of revenge to avenge Gretchen's death. In viewing the story as two parallel narratives we see that Donnie's decisions have great bearing for Frank who dies in one story but lives in the other. As confusing as the stories become, the impact of

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