David Goleb’s review published on Letterboxd:
There was a good stretch of years when I was younger that this was my favorite movie. It reminds me a lot of Fight Club honestly, it's one of those movies you watch as a young teen and you feel really cool for understanding and enjoying it. Like Fight Club though, as you get older you realize that maybe it isn't as cool and insightful as you thought it was. Luckily in Donnie Darko's case it didn't spawn the weird incel gang following that Fight Club sometimes seems like it has (though I do still enjoy that movie, I just don't think it's God's gift to cinema anymore). No, Donnie Darko just got the kinda depressed guy following, and here I am. It may sound like I'm trying to insult the movie, but I'm not. Part of it is that I got really stoned watching this so that was all just a weird thought, but honestly I still think this is a fantastic movie.
There is so much to talk about with this movie. Just with the story alone, the relationship to time and different dimensions. The performances, the soundtrack, the themes, the young Seth Rogen, smurfette. Free will vs fate and predestination. It is densely packed and understandable does leave a lot of people confused and questioning.
One of my favorite parts is both Gyllenhaal's getting to play siblings. That relationship and little sibling rivalry and bickering just works as perfectly as possible. It really helps you buy into the characters and stories almost immediately.
Jake is fantastic as Donnie. A very troubled young man, burdened with knowledge of his impending doom. As we've seen throughout his career, he can play "disturbed" very well.
The story is engaging and interesting, the characters are all mostly well done, and it's emotionally resonant enough to really leave an impression. While I can more readily acknowledge now that it certainly has it's flaws I still love this movie.