Deam Hawkins’s review published on Letterboxd:
This is a review for the Director's Cut
The beauty of Donnie Darko is that depending on what version you will see, it is still amazingly entertaining and enthralling no matter how many times you view it. Whatever version you prefer does not change the fact that it is a paramount example of being of a simultaneously accessible and niche, filled with memorable characters and quotable lines that are frequently intercepted by ambiguity and devious imagery.
Viewing the Director's Cut again served as a medium for me to reflect on why people prefer the theatrical version instead and I can sympathise with their feelings, although the director's cut does maintain a vast majority of the film's amazing qualities. Despite the controversial music changes, the addition of passages from the famed 'Philosophy of Time Travel' and a slight change in tone, it never takes away from what made the film a classic to begin with; it's unabashed individuality. Yes, on first viewing having no guidance whatsoever to what is happening may help with first impressions but thankfully Donnie Darko remains as every bit as enjoyable and impactful as what I probably would have had with the theatrical version.
Everything about Donnie Darko is reliant on the viewer's patience and willingness to be free thinking, it's themes interweaving with these desires and that's what I appreciate the most about it. We, like Donnie Darko are products of our society but also of ourselves. We may be guided by outside forces or even by divine intervention if you will but we are all in control of our own destiny. As William Ernest Henley said in his famous poem Invictus:
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.