Review: Donald Cried
Like a mumblecore version of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, Kris Avedisian's first feature is a mismatched buddy film about reminiscing on past and realizing that while some people change, others stay exactly the same, for better or worse.
Making a short stop in his hometown of Warwick, Rhode Island to collect his late nana's ashes and belongings, Peter (Jesse Wakeman) loses track of his wallet and finds himself stranded. Luckily, he soon happens by his old high school buddy Donald (Avedisian), whom he must rely on over the course of the next day, as his attempts to obtain some cash to take the train home are constantly thwarted by Donald's aims to reconnect.
Laced with awkward scenarios and a heaping load of sadness, Donald Cried is able to create sympathy for these two mainly unlikeable characters - thanks to a fantastic screenplay (written by Avedisian, Wakeman, and Kyle Espeleta). Peter, now working in finance, is the spitting image of a successful guy who's traded in his sense of youth for the world of big business, leaving everything from his past behind in a condescending tone. Donald on the other hand is the very embodiment of that same past, constantly referring to past incidents with sharp detail and fondness, though one can easily see that through his present condition of still living at home and working for his horrid stepfather, all is not well.
The strength of the film comes through it's ability to project a familiar or relatable scenario - coming into contact with that friend or acquaintance you moved on from and obtaining some kind of closure while also having that feeling in the back of your mind of having done them wrong via your absence. It's certainly cringeworthy at times, such as when Donald forcefully causes Peter to talk to an old high school flame seated next to them at a restaurant, in the company of her husband and child. Or when Donald misleads Peter into an impromptu football game in the snow against two drug dealers, just so he can share some playtime with his old chum. But it's also quite moving, as the former chums stand now in stark opposition, trying to make up for old time but in their own way, realizing that the past can't be mended.
Donald Cried manages to do a lot with a simple premise and a short runtime, peppered with as much laugh-out-loud moments as sombre ones. In creating a unique, well-constructed portrait of drifting apart, that is also quite human in itself, it's certainly one of the more outstanding films of this subgenre in recent memory.