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Donnie Darko
Donnie Darko (Soundtrack)

Donnie Darko Review

Directed By: Richard Kelly.
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Drew Barrymore, Mary McDonnell, Holmes Osborne, Patrick Swayze, Noah Wyle.

Synopsis: Some may think that Donnie Darko is a typical maladjusted teenager. Actually, Donnie is borderline delusional, beset by visions of a monstrous rabbit, which is trying to keep him under its sinister influence. Prompted by this apparition, Donnie commits antisocial acts while he is undergoing psychotherapy, surviving the vagaries of high-school life and romance, and fortuitously escaping a bizarre death from a falling jet engine. Donnie battles his demons, literally and figuratively, in a series of intertwining story lines that play with time travel, fundamentalist gurus, fate, predestination and the machinations of the universe.

Take a disturbed teenager, throw in some time travel philosophy and then add a creepy looking man-sized bunny rabbit and you have Donnie Darko. This should tell you that this is not your average film. Donnie Darko may possibly be the most underexposed and overlooked film of 2001. It didn't even have a Canadian theatrical release, which is a shame because I think through word of mouth; it would have found an audience, much like Memento did before the critics latched onto it.

From the trailer, it appears to be a psychological thriller, but it's really more of a science fiction film and I guess also a period piece being set curiously in 1988. I relish films where you really don't know where they're going to take you and don't feel like you are going down a set path. You may be able to figure out what's going to happen, but not why it's going to happen. This film reminded me a little of Being John Malkovich in the fact that when that came out, people were making one type of film and Spike Jonze decided to make a film like Being. It had a mixed response because some people didn't know what to make of it. It was this attitude maybe that led to Donnie Darko being swept under the rug and I think that's criminal.

This was an extremely ambitious project for writer/director Richard Kelly and a very good first effort. He can successfully mix genres and has a natural sense for writing dialogue. I found his directing style to be a hybrid of David Lynch and Gregg Araki. He uses symbolism and music much like Lynch and James Duval and the bunny rabbit are shades of Araki's film Nowhere. I'm looking forward to seeing future projects of Kelly's. Two of my favourite contemporary directors, David Fincher and Christopher Nolan were around Kelly's age when they directed their first features and look what they've gone on to do.

The film has a large cast, including lesser-known young actors like Jake Gyllenhaal and Jena Malone and also big names like Patrick Swayze, Noah Wyle and Drew Barrymore, who was also executive producer on the film. The soundtrack has a fine arrangement of eighties tunes, including a cover of Tears For Fears' Mad World by Gary Jules and Michael Andrews that will linger in your head for a least a day. Michael Andrews also provided the ethereal score for the picture.

I'm not saying this a mind-blowing spectacular or anything, but it definitely is an interesting little film. It has great visuals, (did I mention the creepy bunny rabbit? It's definitely not something you want to see standing in the corner of your bedroom at night. Kind of a demonic Harvey, if you will.) snappy dialogue and tells a discussion inspiring story. There are directors twice Kelly's age that would kill to create something this provocative.

Copyright© Written By: Tom Servo

DVD Information:

Special Features:
Director and Actor's Commentary
Deleted/ Extended Scenes with Optional Director Commentary
"Cunning Visions" Infomercials
The Philosophy Of Time Travel Book
Website Gallery
"Mad World" Music Video
Art Gallery & Production Stills
Cast & Crew Info
Theatrical Trailer & TV Spots

Video: Widescreen 2.35:1 (Anamorphic)

Audio: ENGLISH: Dolby Digital 5.1 [CC]
ENGLISH: Dolby Digital Surround [CC]
FRENCH: Dolby Digital Surround

The DVD Review:
The DVD is packed full of great stuff. First, there are two commentaries, one with the cast and crew and the second with just director Kelly and star Gyllenhaal.

In the latter, Kelly explains his theory behind the subject matter of the film and clears up any questions the viewer might have, if they didn't 'get it'. Kelly points out many of his symbolic references in the film, as well. Overall, the commentary is very informative and acts as a great companion piece to the film.

There is also a pseudo-director's commentary in the fake infomercial made for the film starring Patrick Swayze. The 'director' and 'producer' are absolutely hysterical. From arguing about who stole whose donut from Craft Services to overblown and pretentious commentary on a cheesy video effect shot. Very out of character for such a dark and interesting film to have such a whacky ten minute featurette like this. Watch it once and show it to your friends!

There are also twenty deleted or extended scenes that had to be cut out for time, more than them being redundant and there is a music video for the aforementioned Mad World cover that is well done.

Also included is a gallery containing pages from the equally puzzling website and a recreation of Kelly's theoretical bible 'The Philosophy of Time Travel.' There are also the usual trailers, television spots, cast bios and storyboards.

Evil Ash

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