Sunday, March 20, 2016

“Donald Cried”– Movie Review


As The Film Society Of Lincoln Center’s New Directors/New Films series continues, I attended a screening of the comedy-drama “Donald Cried”. 


When a man returns to his hometown for his grandmother’s funeral, he calls on an old high school buddy once he finds himself in a bind – but when that buddy tries to rekindle their old friendship, can he avoid it without seeming rude?


Returning to Warwick, Rhode Island in the dead of winter, Peter is very focused on his mission:  to collect the ashes of his late grandmother, sell her old house and gather the belongings from the nursing home where she spent her last days.  Although it’s been about 20 years since he was last there, he’s not feeling terribly nostalgic; as a New York City resident who now works in the financial sector, he merely wants to do what’s necessary and return home as soon as he possibly can.  However, his plans have hit a major speed bump:  during his bus ride from New York, he’s managed to lose his wallet.  Now, he has no cash, no credit cards and no drivers license. 

After meeting with Kristin, the real estate agent who’s taking on the task of selling his grandmother’s house, Peter realizes that she’s someone who he vaguely knew back in his high school days – Kristin is the younger sister of one of his classmates and had a huge crush on Peter back in the day.  Since Peter’s grandmother was cremated, he must now make his way to the funeral parlor to pick up the urn containing her ashes.  Unfortunately, he now has no transportion, so he’s stuck.  Suddenly, next door neighbor Donald appears – a friend from high school whom he hasn’t seen in years.  Although a bit of an oddball, Donald agrees to help his old chum by giving him a lift to the funeral parlor. 

The more time Peter is forced to spend with Donald, the more he comes to realize that his obnoxious behavior may be symptomatic of the fact that Donald may be suffering from a severe case of arrested adolescence; despite the passage of a significant amount of time, it would appear as though Donald never really grew up.  Donald, sadly, is still stuck in his teenage years and wishes to relive what he thinks of as his glory days from long ago.  Peter, on the other hand, is desperately trying to ditch Donald so that he can get on with the rest of his life.  But can he do it without looking like a jerk?


The character of Donald (played by director and co-writer Kristopher Avedisian) is the kind of guy you either want to stab in the ear with an ice pick or strangle with piano wire.  Either way, you get the idea.  Obnoxious doesn’t even begin to cover the problems this guy has.  As far as Peter is concerned, he’s not much better; as someone who allegedly has a responsible job, exactly how does he manage to lose his wallet on the bus ride from New York to Rhode Island?  The answer, apparently, is that he is just as irresponsible as Donald.  Or maybe it’s just a dramatic conceit. 

“Donald Cried” (a terrible title) might be considered something of a combination of a buddy movie and a road movie.  A buddy movie, with at least one of the buddies being a reluctant buddy; a road movie, if you are willing to accept the various extents of Warwick, Rhode Island as the “road” in this case.  Nevertheless, it is episodic and lacking in much of what might be seen as a resolution – that is to say, the film ends with little of the story’s loose ends tied up.  Although the relationship between Pete and Donald somewhat gets resolved, how this happens may not be believable. 

Following the screening was a question and answer session with Avedisian and a couple of the actors from the movie –  Jesse Wakeman, who played Peter and also co-wrote the screenplay and Louisa Krause who played Kristin.  Avedisian said that “Donald Cried” came about from a short film he directed with his collaborators; he decided to develop it into a longer form because he felt that he wanted to explore how society dealt with people who were like Donald – that is to say, people who were on the outer fringes of society and how people lacked a certain degree of empathy for them. 

Donald Cried (2016) on IMDb

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