Propelled by Jake Gyllenhaal’s menacing hunch, an enigmatic story line, and a nostalgic ’80s soundtrack, Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko (R, 132 mins., 2001, Fox) finagled its way into the canon of teenage disaffection despite box office failure.
Now four years later, the angst-ridden time-bender featuring a talking rabbit (think Holden Caulfield meets Harvey in a comic-book interpretation of Stephen Hawking) has been resurrected in a director’s cut with 20 more minutes of apocalyptic fun, plus a pleasing set of extras — an on-set diary, a maudlin look at the British cult following, a gaga fan’s farcical video ode, and the highlight, Kelly’s joint commentary with ”good friend” Kevin Smith. The Dogma director had no involvement in the production, but his irreverence and film smarts make for an amusing experience — and a relief whenever he rebuts Kelly’s sometimes over-zealous theorizing. In context, the added footage (which was included among the first DVD’s outtakes) significantly clarifies Darko‘s more arcane moments.
But while the original’s elusiveness verged on aggravating vanity, this edition suffers from explication overkill, interspersing too many passages from Donnie‘s time travel textbook and Watership Down. After all, it is still the Lynch-lite obscurity of Kelly’s vision that makes his work provocative — so enough with the bunnies already.