Tyler Duswalt’s review published on Letterboxd:
Utterly brilliant and equally confusing upon first viewing. Tonally sound, subtle and effective use of the 80’s period, fantastic screenplay, and worthy of its cult classic status.
I watched the theatrical cut of Donnie Darko, but I’ve heard the director’s cut is superior for its vastly worthwhile additions. A rewatch is definitely required here, as explanations for the ambiguous events at work show elements of this film that just beg to be revisited.
*Miniscule spoilers ahead:
Pertaining to the conclusion: I did feel the emotional weight of such (accentuated by “Mad World”), but without any semblance of an understanding for the conclusion, I longed for clarity. 2001: A Space Odyssey doesn’t feed answers, nor does it long to, which is a part of why the film is so attractive. But that is a very different experience from Donnie Darko: a much more story-centric film with a high prevalence in thematic undertones. I have a feeling I will appreciate this film’s glory more upon returning to it, as I feel I’ve unlocked more of its potential with understanding different angles/takes as to what’s going on. Let me clarify, I thoroughly enjoyed the entire film for its greatness in other areas, but, in the moments during the conclusion, I felt it all built up to something I couldn’t comprehend (and couldn’t fully do so with the scenes left out of the theatrical cut that help clear things up during the experience). I can appreciate its unconventional approach to storytelling, however, and its methodology to leave some loose ends up in the air (an element of some cult films that I need to adjust to) is respectable to say the least.