I feel like I see a lot of indie movies about the “man child” or the “prodigal son returning home,” some of which are better, others which are not. I’ve also seen a few that are the “triple threat” origin, meaning writer/director/actor. That’s a difficult line to tread, and it very rarely succeeds without serious flaws. But a good approach is to make yourself unlikeable.
Donald Cried comes from director and writer Kris Avedisian, who also stars in the movie, although he’s the antagonist. Jesse Wakeman stars as Peter, a big city Wall Street finance guy (the specifics aren’t important, it’s the cliché that matters) that has returned back to his small Rhode Island hometown because his grandmother died and he’s the only relative left, I think. That part isn’t really touched on, which is a shame.
Peter ends up losing his wallet and realizes he only knows one person in the town that can help him out: his childhood friend Donald (Kris Avedisian as mentioned), who was apparently an immature, awkward, and annoying kid. He’s all that as an adult, plus anger issues, plus drinking heavily, plus still living with his parents, plus barely keeping down a paying job. The entire movie takes place in a day, as we see those two reconnect and disconnect and reconcile and fight and etc.
It’s a classic sort of “comedy,” although I didn’t find it particularly funny. The character of Donald seems realistically awful, if endearing in places, and there was a bit of an effort to show the guilt of “leaving it all behind” by Peter. Peter is ostensibly the sane, rational lead, although it does make you wonder: who are we supposed to empathize with? In general, the movie touches lightly on these themes of adulthood versus childhood, guilt versus acceptance, and the worry that you haven’t changed at all.
I liked two leads, who gave fairly honest performances, although Donald did seem a bit unrealistically weird at times. Sometimes there are comedic attempts based on his weirdness, but I don’t find that sort of thing inherently funny. As a drama that apes the indie style of two person drama, this fits right in. That said, it seems deeply personal, yet that depth of insight doesn’t entirely transmit through the screen. Instead, I found it hard to ultimately care.
The movie does pace itself pretty well, which is a common problem I have with this sort of “quirky” take on dramedy. It’s not really funny at all, and that did seem to be the intention, so that’s essentially a failure. The movie is decently constructed overall, but this isn’t the sort of thing that will appeal to many people. I think it will end up on Netflix under “If you like Dramedies with Annoying Man Children” and some people will watch it and forget about it. Take that how you want.
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