(out of 5)
Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a troubled teen in therapy who keeps seeing visions of a giant man with a rabbit’s head telling him to create mayhem with acts of vandalism, and then predicts the end of the world. Twenty seven year-old Richard Kelly’s feature film debut is an assured, fascinating mini-Lynch odyssey into the odd and unknown, a creepy genre-crosser that will keep you nailed to your seat for two solid hours. As we watch Darko experience various creatively produced hallucinations, undergo hypnosis with therapist Katharine Ross and investigate his theories on time travel which have more bearing on the plot than you at first realize, we wonder if what he is seeing are the psychotic mind tricks of a paranoid schizophrenic, or maybe he really does an extra sense for understanding a more complex world around him. Drew Barrymore (who also executive produced) is excellent as a tough-talking English teacher, and Mary McDonnell is fantastic as Darko’s baffled but deep mother, but this is Gyllenhaal’s movie and his performance gives the film most of its credibility.
Directed by Richard Kelly
Screenplay by Richard Kelly
Cinematography by Steven Poster
Music by Michael Andrews
Production Design by Alec Hammond
Costume Design by April Ferry