Review by: Simon Bell l Rating: Two
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary by Richard Kelly and Jake
Gyllenhaal; Commentary by selected cast and crew including Richard
Kelly, Drew Barrymore, Katherine Ross and Jean Malone; 20 deleted
and extended scenes with optional director's commentary; Interviews
with 20 cast and crew members; B roll footage; The Philosophy
of Time Travel; Website gallery; Artwork gallery; UK art exhibition;
'They Made Me Do It' - making of the art gallery; Cunning Visions
gallery; TV spots; Cast and crew filmographies.
NO, NOT a long lost member of the X-Men, but a messed-up teenager
whose only outlet for his trapped-in-late-80s-suburban-hell frustrations
is his schizoid lunar wanderings of body and mind.
Young first-time director, Richard Kelly (26 when the film was
made), comes from the same School of Super Spook presided over
by Principal David Lynch. Not only does Kelly's black as coal
satire simply reek of future cult classic status, like the best
of Lynch it's much better when seen for a second time.
Whether this is to fathom out the time travel allegory or to cipher
if it was all just a dream, Donnie Darko is one of those movies
that you can watch again and again and still feel that it's brand
In it, schoolkid Donnie has problems. One of them - a big, hairy
problem with monstrous, bucked gnashers and bunny ears - wakes
him in the night and whispers apocalyptic messages before instructing
him to carry out mischievous deeds.
There's no point in telling you what it all means. Go see it and
make up your own mind. Needless to say, however, a la Lynch, it
gets even more weird.
In the central role, Jake Gyllenhaal looks like the third member
of a triumvirate including Elijah Wood and Tobey Maguire (albeit
a much darker third member.) A mopey, sulky teenager governed
by fuck fantasies by day; a Mr Hyde-like, somnambulistic worker
of chaos by night, Gyllenhaal plays in both dimensions equally
There's great support in the form of old pros such as Mary O'Donnell
(Mummy Darko) and new pretenders like Maggie Gyllenhaal (Sis Darko
on film and off).
Mention has to be made, meanwhile, of Patrick Swayze, as a self-help
guru with a few dark secrets (literally) in the closet. Of course,
Swayze sums up the 80s as much as the Rubik's Cube (which also
makes a cameo) and Tears for Fears (whose Mad World is played
against a stunning camera pan of characters' faces worthy of anything
PT Anderson can muster).
It's difficult to pigeonhole Donnie Darko, so genre-busting a
movie is it. Whether a sci-fi fable in the tradition of Repo Man
(1984), or a plain old satirical take on ordinary American suburbia,
Kelly's weird and wonderful offbeat debut benefits no end from
its flight of pure and imaginative fantasy.
By the way, don't try and be clever first time round. Just enjoy.
You're guaranteed to find the film a little more digestible, if
not even funnier, next time.