You Can Never Go Too Far.
"...bursts with noise, ideas and references, but it's fundamentally a gracefully crafted movie that's about human beings and not images. Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com
|In the tradition of Urban Legends and Final Destination, Donnie Darko is an edgy, psychological thriller about a suburban teen coming face-to-face with his dark destiny. Jake Gyllenhaal leads a star-filled cast (including Drew Barrymore, Noah Wyle, Jena Malone, Patrick Swayze and Mary McDonnell) as a delusional high-school student visited by a demonic rabbit with eerie visions of the past -- and deadly predictions for the future. This "excitingly original" (Entertainment Weekly) nail-biter will keep you on the edge of your seat until the mind-bending climax.|
"...a deliriously subtle exploration of storytelling possibilities, and a deliciously wry teen-pic to boot. Brilliant. David Sterritt, Christian Science Monitor
"As emotionally rich as it is intellectually demanding. Jean Oppenheimer, New Times
"Kelly is a supple and courageous storyteller, boldly free-associating as he mixes parody and satire with earnest psychodrama... Lisa Alspector, Chicago Reader
"The nerviest, oddest, most outlandish and idiosyncratic American indie debut since "Buffalo 66," Richard Kelly's "Donnie Darko" defies description. Michael Atkinson, Mr. Showbiz
Writer-director Richard Kelly's bold debut film is a social satire, a dark comedy, a science fiction time-traveling fantasy, and a suburban nightmare about an extremely intelligent, depressive, self-destructive, narcoleptic, gun-toting, sex-crazed, teenaged arsonist: Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal). DONNIE DARKO is not your typical teen comedy. But, like GHOST WORLD and RUSHMORE, it uses the trappings of the teen comedy as the entry point for a subversive and trenchant (and also wonderfully entertaining) look at American life. The difference between those films and DONNIE DARKO is that Donnie is an unlikely hero who just might save the world. It's October 1988, in the Virginia suburb of Middlesex. When Frank, a grotesque giant bunny (possibly imaginary), leads Donnie out of his house minutes before a plane smashes through his roof, he not only saves Donnie's life but also warns Donnie that the world is about to end. Over the next few weeks, Donnie falls in love with Gretchen (Jena Malone) and tries to figure out what his life means. Kelly's film perfectly captures the unease that is quietly scratching under the surface of suburban late 1980s life. Gyllenhaal leads an exceptional cast, bringing Kelly's twisted but humane vision to life. An exceptional performance is given by Mary McDonnell (PASSION FISH) as Donnie's mother.
Donnie Darko - DVD Review
By: Annette Cardwell
filmcritic.com DVD Reviews
Published on: 1/30/2009 4:47 PM
Donnie Darko is a writer-director’s debut that takes on schizophrenia, time travel, teenage angst, dysfunctional suburban family life, societal farce, and hallucinations of an evil bunny in a gorgeously filmed two-hour package deserves serious props. But Richard Kelly’s fascinating film is seriously flawed in that it never brings all these disparate elements together in the end. Not to mention that it bears the worst title of the year....read the full review
Cast & Crew
Independent Spirit (2002)
||Jake Gyllenhaal, Nominee, Best Male Lead
||Richard Kelly, Nominee, Best First Feature
||Richard Kelly, Nominee, Best First Screenplay
Sundance Film Festival (2001)
||Richard Kelly, Nominee, Grand Jury Prize - Dramatic
Movieline's Hollywood Life
"...A remarkably accomplished piece of filmmaking by a 26-year-old Richard Kelly..."
"...Richard Kelly, the first-time writer-director, is obviously talented....He sees his characters freshly and clearly, and never reduces them to formulas. In Jake Gyllenhaal, he finds an actor able to suggest an intriguing kind of disturbance..."
Sight and Sound
"...A fine film, even an astounding one....DONNIE DARKO has a texture and tang all its own....Haunting and altogether exquisite..."
"...This is startling filmmaking -- end of story..."
"...This home life/high school satire set in someone's twilight zone grabs you and doesn't let go. It's also one of the best cast films of the last decade..."
"One of the most original debuts of the past 20 years..."
"DONNIE DARKO has become one of the most original and thought-provoking movies of the last 10 years..."
5 stars out of 5 -- "[Featuring] Jake Gyllenhaal's as yet unbettered performance and a stunning script."
ReelViews 8 of 10
Donnie Darko, the debut feature from writer/director Richard Kelly, is part psychological thriller and part science fiction mystery. The title character (Jake Gyllenhaal), a teenager in his last year of high school, is suffering from all manner of delusions and hallucinations. He sees and does the bidding of a six-foot high rabbit wearing an insect mask, and, at times, appears completely dissociated form his surroundings. He is visiting a therapist and taking medication, but neither solution is working. Donnie is getting worse, but is it because he's descending deeper into a web of mental instability or because he's really seeing and experiencing these things? These are questions that the movie leaves unanswered until the end...One aspect of Donnie Darko's production that's definitely worth mentioning is the special effects. The movie was made on the kind of low budget typically associated with independent films, yet the visual effects are first-rate (one in particular looks like it was lifted out of James Cameron's The Abyss). With the price for this kind of CGI work in a steady decline, it is now becoming possible for all directors - not just those working with $50 million-plus budgets - to employ convincing, and occasionally eye-popping, special effects. Tools that were cutting edge a decade ago have now become commonplace. Donnie Darko proves that it's possible to do science fiction with visual effects in the independent film arena. This is just another area where the line between mainstream and indie movie-making has become increasingly blurred. Perhaps the only remaining difference is that smaller efforts like Donnie Darko use effects in service of an interesting story, while too many Hollywood productions think of the plot as a bothersome adjunct to their CGI eye candy.
- James Berardinelli
Chicago Sun-Times 7 of 10
There is a kind of movie that calls out not merely to be experienced but to be solved. The plot coils back on itself in intriguing mind puzzles, and moviegoers send bewildering e-mails to one another, explaining it. Two weeks ago brought ''Mulholland Drive,'' which has inspired countless explanations, all convincing, none in agreement, and now here is ''Donnie Darko,'' the story of a teenage boy who receives bulletins about the future from a large and demonic rabbit...The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal, from ''October Sky,'' as Donnie Darko, a high school student whose test scores are ''intimidating,'' whose pose is to be likable and sardonic at once, and who occasionally forgets to take his medication, for unspecified but possibly alarming reasons. He is seeing a psychiatrist (Katharine Ross), who uses hypnosis to discover that he has a nocturnal visitor who leads him on sleepwalking expeditions. One of these trips is fortunate, because while he's out of the house a 747 jet engine falls directly through his bedroom...The movie is grounded solidly in a leafy suburban setting, where the neighbors gather behind police lines while a big flatbed truck hauls the engine away and the FBI questions the Darko family. There is much unexplained...Richard Kelly, the first-time writer-director, is obviously talented--not least at creating a disturbing atmosphere out of the materials of real life. His mysterious jet engine is a masterstroke. He sees his characters freshly and clearly, and never reduces them to formulas. In Jake Gyllenhaal, he finds an actor able to suggest an intriguing kind of disturbance; the character is more curious than frightened, more quixotic than eccentric, and he sets a nice tone for the movie. But somehow the control fades in the closing scenes, and our hands, which have been so full, close on emptiness. ''Donnie Darko'' is the one that got away. But it was fun trying to land it.
- Roger Ebert