Donnie Darko

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Donnie Darko

So much more than just David Lynch for angsty teens, Richard Kelly's emotionally resonant drama returns to cinemas

A welcome fifteenth anniversary reissue for Richard Kelly’s intelligent, enchanting slice of ’80s-throwback Lynchian emo-angst. Jake Gyllenhaal is all glowering gothic intensity as Donnie, the wayward son of a well-to-do middle-American family who begins to suspect that his hallucinations of a giant rabbit are in fact transmissions from an apocalyptic future.

It’s the jukebox soundtrack and crisp, inventive photography you remember, but what’s perhaps most remarkable about ‘Donnie Darko’ a decade-and-a-half on is how Kelly manages to take a bleak story of adolescent mental illness and make it funny, resonant and entertaining – without ever sacrificing integrity. Donnie is a complex, charming hero, and his romance with Jena Malone’s equally troubled Gretchen is the heart of the film. But there’s a pleasing sense that Kelly gives equal value to all the lives that circle around Donnie’s: from Patrick Swayze’s disturbed self-help guru to Drew Barrymore’s earnest English teacher, not to mention Donnie’s loving, conflicted family. Any of these characters could be the focus of their own story.

Kelly’s tendency to ramble off into half-formed ideas about wormholes and quantum theory may feel a tad adolescent in retrospect, but otherwise this has held up remarkably well.

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Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday December 23 2016
Duration: 113 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Richard Kelly
Screenwriter: Richard Kelly
Cast: Noah Wyle
Katharine Ross
Drew Barrymore
Jake Gyllenhaal
Patrick Swayze
Mary McDonnell
James Duval
Holmes Osborne
Jena Malone
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