In “Donnie Darko – The Director's Cut,” a funny, moving and distinctly mind-bending journey through suburban America premiering in Geneva at the Smith Opera House on Jan. 30, one extraordinary but disenchanted teenage is about to take Time’s Arrow for a ride.
Oct. 2, 1988: just another ordinary day in Donnie Darko’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) teen-aged existence. He’s taken his medication, watched Dukakis & Bush debate, and had dinner with the family. Then an outrageous accident occurs, which just misses claiming Donnie’s life. As Donnie begins to explore what it means to still be alive, and in short order to be in love, he uncovers secrets of the universe that give him a tempting power to alter time and destiny.
From 26-year-old first-time writer-director Richard Kelly comes the provocative “Donnie Darko,” a genre busting fable that blasts the American suburban drama into a wildly imaginative realm of time travel, alternative universes and the manipulation of one’s fate. But at the core of “Donnie Darko” is the simple story of a boy trying to make a stand in a lonely, chaotic world – and discovering that every little thing he does counts on a cosmic scale.
Originally screened at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival, “Donnie Darko” became one of the festival’s most talked-about and debated films, praised for blending sci-fi fantasy with an original vision of a modern suburbia teetering on the edge of dread and disaster.
As “Donnie Darko” was being set for a late October 2001 release, the events of 9/11 created a violence-weary marketplace. In addition to the film's stylized violence, a key plot element of the film involved a commercial jet engine mysteriously falling from the sky.
With deep-rooted themes of foreboding doom and American anxiety, “Donnie Darko” was marketed as a horror film, but failed to find an audience. It grossed only $110,000 during its opening weekend on 58 screens; in just three weeks it was playing in less than a dozen theaters. By the end of 2001, it had grossed about $420,000. But word of mouth kept it going on a few screens during 2002 (including midnight screenings that would continue through 2004), and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released the DVD in March 2002, fueling the cult following.
Originally contractually obligated to deliver a two-hour version of the film, Kelly felt his film suffered from too many loose ends, at times creating plot ambiguity for the sake of brevity. (The original theatrical running time was 113 minutes; several deleted scenes were included on the DVD version.) So, based on the incredible success on home video and at midnight showings, Kelly inserted 20 minutes of never-before-seen footage, created new special effects, improved the sound quality, and injected the soundtrack with '80s tracks too expensive for the original release (such as INXS' “Never Tear Us Apart”) for an unprecedented re-release “director's cut.”
“I'd always artistically felt like there was a longer version of the film that I wanted to exist and assemble at some point,” Kelly says now. In addition to the deleted scenes that appeared on the DVD, Kelly withheld select sequences that will come as a surprise even to the most dedicated fans.
The cast also includes Drew Barrymore, Noah Wyle, Mary McDonnell, Patrick Swayze, Katharine Ross, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Jena Malone.
The Smith screens “Donnie Darko” at 2 p.m. Jan. 30, and at 7 p.m. Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. Rated R for language, some drug use and violence, this film has a running time of two hours, 13 minutes. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students and senior citizens. All seats are $2 on Tuesday. Call 315-781-5483 or toll-free 866-355-5483 for details or to reserve tickets.
The Sunday Movie Roundtable meets following the matinee screening on January 30. The Smith invites patrons to stay after and participate in insightful discussion about the film lead by The Smith's Arts-in-Education Director RJ Rapoza. The discussion takes place in The Smith's lower-level cabaret.
The Smith Opera House is located at 82 Seneca Street in Geneva. The Smith is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, the City of Geneva, the Town of Geneva and by contributions from individual supporters.