Still Surreal After All These Years: Donnie Darko (The Director’s Cut)

donnie darko the director's cut
Written by Dennis D McDonald

Part sci-fi, part thriller and part high school flick, Donnie Darko (The Director’s Cut) is a must-see, says Dennis D. McDonald. [review[

aNewDomaindennis d. mcdonald kallstadtRichard Kelly’s Donnie Darko is one of the best and most insightful views of high school I’ve ever seen.

The film, best seen in its newer director’s cut version, tells the story of a gifted but troubled teen (Jake Gyllenhall) who survives a freak accident and discovers the secrets of the universe, with a little help from a guy (James Duval) in a really freaky-looking bunny suit.

I introduced my son and daughter to 2001’s Donnie Darko when they were both adolescents and they loved it almost as much as I did.  So when  I came across a Blu-ray edition of Donnie Darko (Directors Cut) I decided to check it out again.

I was surprised at how well this surreal film has held up over the years. In fact, I was even more impressed this time around.

The casting, for one thing, is superb. Led by Jake Gyllenhaal’s expressive and emotional performance, the cast also features Jena Malone as well as Drew Barrymore, who is also the movie’s executive producer. Patrick Swayze nails it with his smarmy portrayal of a motivational speaker And Duval is great as the surrealistic bunny.

The dialogue in this movie is unremittingly clever. My favorite line: “Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion.”

One of the many standout things you’ll notice in this film is the quality of the photography and editing. They are first class. Steven Poster, the film’s director of photography, definitely must have studied some serious Stanley Kubrick.

Even the sets are wonderful. From classrooms to bedrooms, kitchens and offices, everything looks real. My daughter wore Catholic school uniforms like those. The attention to detail here is first class.

Donnie Darko holds up well as top-notch imaginative science fiction flick. Check it out — especially if you haven’t seen it and you enjoy a healthy dose of ambiguity from time to time. Scroll below to watch the trailer.

For aNewDomain, I’m Dennis D. McDonald.

An earlier version of this review ran on Dennis D. McDonald’s DDMCD site. Find it here.

Here’s the trailer.