Richard Kelly looks to cash in another comeback ticket
For a director who gained cult acclaim with "Donnie Darko," his Jake Gyllenhaal-starring story of suburban paranoia, Richard Kelly has frittered away some currency over the years. His "Southland Tales" garnered mixed reviews and was of niche interest, despite what some considered the film's admirable ambition. The 2009 science-fiction melange "The Box," a film with a "Twilight Zone"-type premise and Cameron Diaz at the center, had the notorious distinction of receiving an "F" grade from CinemaScore.
Now comes news, first reported by Variety, that Kelly is taking on a new movie. Titled "Corpus Christi," it centers on a friendship between a mentally imbalanced Iraq war veteran and a supermarket clerk. It sounds a little less genre-y than Kelly's previous work -- the trade cites a "traditional narrative" -- though with Kelly, existential and surreal weirdness never seems to be too far out of the picture.
According to a statement from Kelly's production company, "Christi" is "a contemporary thriller set in the coastal city of Texas revolving around a mentally unstable Iraq war veteran named Paciencia 'Patience' De La Rosa who forges a strange friendship with his boss, Ralph Salverson, the wealthy owner of a chain of supermarkets who harbors ambitious political aspirations." It aims to cast up in the next two months and shoot this summer.
There is a notable genre element too: Horror-meister Eli Roth is a producer on the film.
Kelly, who saw his cred skyrocket after "Darko" became a hit on DVD, had his chance at a studio movie with "The Box," which he made with Warner Bros. in 2009. He didn't exactly score with that one, and now he's going back to the indie world, making this film outside the Hollywood system. (He's partly financing it through his own production company.) The film world loves a comeback, and Kelly has garnered too many fans to go away easily. So now he'll have another chance to redeem himself, though if it doesn't take, one can wonder how many more chances he'll get.
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: "Donnie Darko." Credit: Newmarket Films