Disturbingly funny debut tackles life and death with the help of a giant rabbit
Donnie darko is a lot of things?mesmerising, hallucinatory, shocking, sad and often very funny. In its off-kilter evocation of adolescent disturbance, the gnawing oddity of growing up with the dawning knowledge that life only goes so far and that everything we cherish is in the end not much more than ash on the wind, it’s also one of the most truly touching films in years.
There are vivid echoes here of Gus Van Sant when he was still making strikingly individual films like My Own Private Idaho and various debts are owed to David Lynch, but first-time writer-director Richard Kelly is a hugely promising talent and brings a tremendous freshness and skewed apocalyptic humour to the film. He’s well served by a great cast?especially Jake Gyllenhaal as troubled teenager Donnie, who is advised of the world’s imminent demise by what appears to be a six-foot rabbit and tells us at one point: “The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had.” Brilliant soundtrack, too.