Thursday, July 8, 2010
DONNIE DARKO (2001). Writer/Director: Richard Kelly.
An already somewhat disturbed teenage boy, Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal), becomes even stranger after an airplane engine mysteriously crashes into his bedroom. He sees an imaginary friend named Frank (James Duval), who dresses in a big furry outfit and encourages Donnie to commit acts of vandalism and arson. Interesting supporting cast: Drew Barrymore [ who was executive producer] is a quirky teacher at the school; Mary McDonnell is Donnie's mother; Patrick Swayze is an author and motivational speaker; Noah Wyle is a science professor who discusses time travel [which somehow figures in the "plot"]; and Katharine Ross is Donnie's psychiatrist, Dr. Thurman. The movie is very much the product of a 25-year-old mind [which writer/director Kelley was at the time]. Although it's full of some interesting ideas, characters, and images, they are all under-developed, and the picture is rambling and eventually quite dull, despite the odd goings-on. The kind of movie that a teen would probably find "profound." Gyllenhaal, whose performance is very good [as is the case with most of the cast] later starred in the much more interesting Brokeback Mountain. The director's cut runs half an hour longer! More torture?
Verdict: Face it -- there's less here than meets the eye. **.