Limited theatrical re-release of modern classic ahead of forthcoming DVD special edition
DIRECTED BY Richard Kelly
STARRING Jake Gyllenhaal, Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze
Opens August 27, Cert 12, 133 mins
Proper youth cult films don’t come along very often. Who would actually turn up to a midnight screening of Trainspotting or Slackers now? Donnie Darko, on the other hand… flea-pit cinemas around the US have been showing it constantly for 18 months, mostly to college-age repeat-viewers trying to work out what it’s about, failing, and staggering out like they’ve just OD’d on smack and acid. Everyone loves it. So why bother re-cutting it?
“I felt like there were always some plot holes and some moments that might have appeared like, oh, he’s just trying to confuse us or he’s trying to be weird,” Richard Kelly says of the original two-hour cut. So is this 133-minute version any clearer? Well, no.
The plot’s the same: oblique, dizzying, circular. Some deleted scenes have been re-inserted, fleshing out the parts of Donnie’s dad, sister (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and English teacher (Drew Barrymore). There are some visual effects-mostly when Donnie’s talking to death-bunny Frank?that arguably make the film more baroque and prog-like. But the major addition is the pages from The Philosophy Of Time Travel, the mad old lady’s book which supposedly enlightens Donnie. We get brief (too brief to read) glimpses, which initially promise to explain the whole thing: it’s about tangent universes! Of course! But then what are “the manipulated dead”? What’s a “living receiver”? Kelly dangles so much arcane information that, by the end (appropriately), you’re back where you started.
No clearer, then. Worth seeing? About 20 times at least.