Richard Kelly


Donnie Darko by Alex Amezcua

Richard Kelly (b. 1975) is an American film director and writer. He won a scholarship to the University of Southern California to study at the USC School of Cinema-Television. He made two short films, ‘The Goodbye Place’ and ‘Visceral Matter,’ before graduating in 1997. His first feature film, ‘Donnie Darko’ (2001), a psychological thriller, was given a budget of just $4.5 million, received major critical acclaim. His fourth film, and second feature, ‘Southland Tales,’ (2006) is a science fiction dark comedy-drama, which was unsuccessful critically and financially. His most recent feature, ‘The Box’ (2009), is a psychological horror film.

Although Richard Kelly’s films differ considerably in setting and characters (‘Donnie Darko’ is about a suburban teenager, ‘Southland Tales’ is an L.A. epic, and ‘The Box’ is about a married couple in Richmond, Virginia), they share similar themes of time travel, existentialism, and spirituality. Kelly’s style is composed of Steadicam based tracking shots and camera movement in general, satirical elements (as seen sparsely in ‘Donnie Darko’ and much more prominently in ‘Southland Tales’), comedy, drama, and enigmatic plots. Music also plays a large role in Richard Kelly’s films; for example, the closing segment of ‘Donnie Darko’ is a montage of several characters awakening from their lucid dreams to Gary Jules’s version of the Tears for Fears song ‘Mad World.’

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