Review Date: March 03, 2002
Director: Richard Kelly
Writer: Richard Kelly
Producers: Adam Fields, Sean McKittrick
Now having said that, it's to note that a film being unique does not necessarily make it great (note Gyllenhaal's other 2001 film BUBBLE BOY as an example of a movie that was certainly original in its premise, but lame in execution). This movie does a great job of sticking to its battle plan the whole way through, with a genuine sense of oncoming doom crawling into every scene (good move on the title card inserts as well...it kept the momentum going), but for me, it just didn't give me enough substance to go with all of the goodies all the way through. Sure, the film is more about textures and symbols and clues as to what it's all about, but maybe I just wasn't in the mood to tune into all of the specifics on this night, and found it a little slow and redundant at times. I was never really bored or anything, the funky 80s tunes, amazing camera tricks and visual head-games were enough to keep me going, but it was just a little too melancholic and grim for me at some points, and ultimately started getting me down. As for the ending, when it did finally come together and present us with the "solution" of the master plan, I was surprised at what was delivered, but wasn't entirely clear on how everything fit into play (it's definitely the type of movie that has to be seen twice to truly gestate).
I do, however, want to send some props out to Jake Gyllenhaal who does a tremendous job as the Darko which inhabited Donnie, as well as a special kudo to Mr. Patrick Swayze, taking a small break from the straight-to-video market, with a great little role in this film. Drew Barrymore, on the other hand, had no business being cast as the "teacher", other than the fact that her production company was backing said film. I just didn't buy her in the character for one second and the movie never really did establish any reason for her character to exist in the first place. The film is definitely a great start for writer/director Richard Kelly, who seems to have ingrained many a lesson from two of the top filmmaking visionaries, in David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick (notice the hints of THE SHINING and BLUE VELVET). And how's about that creepy giant rabbit?? Yipes! Overall, I would say that this film definitely won me over with its amazing style, kept me involved to a certain extent with its mysterious story, contained some solid chops from its actors and made me think about fate, coincidences and death a whole lot (if that's what you want to ponder when you watch a movie). It's not for anyone looking for a wham-bam type of movie, because it definitely moves methodically and doesn't hand you an easy answer in its final frame, but if you're looking for a mind-trip or want to drop in on someone's semi-psychotic dream, this crazy bunny-wabbit might just be the treat for you.