Reviewer's Rating 3 out of 5   User Rating 5 out of 5
Donnie Darko (2002)
15

Both feted and feared, the creepy "Donnie Darko" arrives in the UK carried on a frothing wave of effusive praise. About eight people saw it in America, but US critics loved it, and their British counterparts have been slobbering out superlatives to hail this genre-blending head-scratcher an instant cult classic.

Certainly, it's a curio that will provoke powerful audience reactions. But you're just as likely to be ranting "What the hell was that all about?" as musing "That's a work of genius".

The title character (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a truculent highschooler with mental problems, whose somnambulism saves his life. Lured from his bed by a mysterious voice, he sleepwalks outside to confront a vision of a grotesque giant rabbit.

Returning home the following morning, Donnie discovers his bedroom has been obliterated by a plane engine that's mysteriously fallen from the sky.

Convinced the world will end in 28 days, Donnie becomes more unstable - his visions intensify, he floods the school and verbally batters Patrick Swayze's self-help guru. Is Donnie completely loco, or is there some method to his madness?

The same could be asked of writer-director Richard Kelly. His movie is certainly unique - replete with unsettling atmosphere, dark laughs and intriguing, likeable characters. It's cine-literate - pilfering settings and ideas from "Harvey", "ET" and "Magnolia" to forge memorable, fresh sequences.

But what's initially involving becomes self-involved. Interest languishes and meaning disappears as the plot disappears up its own tortuous tubes.

"Donnie Darko" has been described as a high school movie directed by David Lynch, and the comparison bears scrutiny. But Lynch's similarly baffling "Mulholland Drive" lingers for months after viewing - and meanings do emerge. Kelly's picture is enjoyable but senseless - a medley of Dawson's Creek and The Twilight Zone that promises much, but delivers little.

End Credits

Director: Richard Kelly

Writer: Richard Kelly

Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Mary McDonnell, Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze, Maggie Gyllenhaal

Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction, Thriller

Length: 113 minutes

Cinema: 25 October 2002

Country: USA

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