The use of Head over Heels by Tear for Fears in Donnie Darko seems almost like a transition piece from one moment to the next, ushering the story along without really needing to know everything that’s going on until you get the idea of just what’s happening with each separate segment. The movie itself is kind of disturbing but in a way that makes for a great cinematic experience. Donnie Darko is the kind of person that you might call your best friend or stay well clear of in school. The song is one that kind of offers the hope of a normal day, one that’s not bound to end in any kind of strangeness that’s out of the norm, and in which the expected happenings withing a school setting are just as they should be.
It’s a walk through the schoolyard really, a setup towards nothing special as one might see it but still something that gives a segue into something that’s possibly building to a different kind of experience that is being laid with a good many hints here and there that you really have to watch for. That seems to be the key of this entire movie. You have to look for the non-obvious points that are laid within the groundwork of the film, the subtle hints that come up now and again that tell the viewer that this could be important at some point later on in the film. Why this reached a cult status isn’t hard to figure out, but why the film never really reached the mainstream is just as easy to figure out.
It’s a story that could have been deemed as groundbreaking and yet was pushed aside for other more engaging films that weren’t as dark or as cagey with their story line. Donnie Darko is in fact a story that you really need to pay attention to in order to understand it fully. It’s not as intellectual as some would have you believe, though it is an intelligent film that you might need to watch twice just to fully understand. This kind of movie tends to draw you in and almost force you to miss certain plot points without worrying over them too much until they become important later on. The music is only another part of such plot devices as it’s pleasing enough to the ear that it helps those things that you should be noticing slip by your attention so that later on they can come back into view so that you trip over them, so to speak.
That’s how Donnie Darko qualifies as intelligent movie really, it actively makes you think, it doesn’t guide you by the hand down the dark corridors. It will make you traverse them on your own and come to your own conclusions as to why anything in the movie is happening. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if the filmmakers designed a movie to go one way and make you think another, holding your own opinion about a film is often more insightful than anything the creators intended to show.