Perry Cononge’s review published on Letterboxd:
I defy anybody to tell me that they actually understand the plot of Donnie Darko the first time they watch it. I had to watch a YouTube explanation video just recently to really get a mild comprehension of some of the weird shit going on. But the understanding is only part of the equation. Donnie Darko isn’t a film that’s all too concerned for your complete level of understanding. It is probably the one time traveling film that is least concerned with giving you any sort of concrete direction. It’s either one of the smartest or the most inane ways to helm a time traveling tale, but for me, it’s perfect the way it is.
The dark and foreboding atmosphere are usually the one thing most people remember about Donnie Darko, myself included. I had forgotten that this is a really funny movie in spots too. The early dinner scene involving the “fuck-ass” conversation is comedy to a T. Though I have yet to check out Richard Kelly’s other works, he showcases his knack for absurd and at times goofy humor quite well. I think the digs at modern suburbia are more funny than anything now, looking back on the late eighties, and even more so how people viewed the late eighties from an early 2000’s perspective.
It also has to be said that the time travel stuff, once explained by people way smarter than me on YouTube, actually makes some measure of sense. Plus, it’s still open ended enough to be able to insert your own meaning into the film too, which is a highly enjoyable way to keep a film ambiguous. But even in the ambiguity, Kelly still keeps the movie interesting and darkly fun.
A film that truly is better the second time you watch it. You’ll know what to expect and look for the clues you missed the first time around, leading to a more enjoyable viewing experience.
A special shout-out has to go to Arrow Video, who have really outdone themselves with their new 4K special edition release. The movie looks gorgeous, but still retains the grainy film texture that I like so much. Plus, the box cover artwork to to die for. It’s so pretty, and I haven’t even had time to dig into the bonus features, something I’m greatly looking forward to.