"On Oct. 2, 1988, 16-year-old Donnie Darko hears from an evil bunnyman named Frank that the world will end in approximately 28 days. The same night, a 747 jet engine plunges from the sky into Donnie's Middlesex, Va., bedroom, where he would be crushed to death were he not busy sleepwalking through a nearby golf course. Meanwhile, the Dukakis-Bush race heats up, and "Back to the Future" has turned time travel into something feasible.
Pay close attention. You might miss something.
From 26-year-old Virginia native Richard Kelly comes an ambitious and highly imaginative directorial debut. "Donnie Darko" is the story of an emotionally troubled teenager who gets progressively more unsound and destructive as the movie goes on. But its psychological thrills comprise only one of the various elements of "Donnie Darko" - it's got suburban farce, sci-fi futurama, black comedy and coming-of-age dramedy carefully knit into it too.
"Donnie Darko" was released in October of last year and has since gone on to win several esteemed nominations and awards, including a Grand Jury Prize nomination at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival. Although the film takes place in Virginia and was written and directed by a Virginian, it has never been actually screened in Virginia ... until today!
Thanks to the efforts of the Virginia Festival Film Society, the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University's OFFScreen, "Donnie Darko" will be shown at 7 p.m. this evening at Vinegar Hill Theatre. As a special treat, Kelly will be in attendance to discuss his film after the screening.
A graduate of Midlothian High School, Kelly grew up in Richmond's southside suburbs in the late '80s. Those of us from that area will recognize in "Donnie Darko" the all-too-familiar characters of high school in central Virginia - the hickish bullies, the small-minded Southern Baptist gym teacher and the disturbingly conservative PTA. Poor Donnie. No wonder he needs therapy.
Played by promising young actor Jake Gyllenhaal ("Goodbye Hello," "October Sky"), Donnie is a sharp, perceptive 16-year-old with a penchant for profanity and somnambulant migrations. He is messed up in the head, but only as messed up as everyone else is in this claustrophobic suburban nightmare.
The film gets weird fast and quickly gets weirder and weirder as Donnie becomes more entrenched in paranoia and delusory visions. But nothing is as it seems, and even the most insignificant of details are worthy of a closer look as the stupefying climax approaches. [...]
Kelly wrote "Donnie Darko" in six weeks, after graduating from the University of Southern California Film School. Although he had few contacts in Hollywood at the time, Kelly had great material and incredible luck. In Drew Barrymore he found an enthusiastic producer for his debut film, as well as a competent actress who could give star power to the vehicle." [...]
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