There is a palpable sense you get while watching the quirked-out indy dramedy “Donald Cried”. It is the distinct impression that this maturation-blunted misfit stoner is based on a guy, or perhaps an amalgamation of them, that Writer, Director and Co-Star Kris Avedisian knows, or knew, pretty damn well.
Avedisian’s take on one of life’s helplessly pitiful losers is plain and simple just so very sad, sad, sad…stultifyingly sad. Some of what his oblivious and completely without filter character of Donald says and does is laugh-out-loud funny, yes. But you almost feel guilty finding folly in these moments because we see how repressively dismal and desperate this downtrodden dude’s existence is, replete with an horrifically repugnant stepfath…stepcreature. Physically, Donald left high school some two decades ago. Emotionally and mentally, he never will. He can’t, and clearly does not want to, break free of the caste system that defined him, and everyone else, in those carefree and couldn’t care less rambunctious days of his misanthropic metalhead youth.
Donald’s teenage running buddy, Pete (Co-Writer Jesse Wakeman, who I just gotta say here bares a striking resemblance to a grown-up Jerry “Leave It to Beaver” Mathers), is a different animal entirely. After Pete graduated from prep school, he bolted out of Warwick, Rhode Island for fun and fortune as a financier in New York City with absolutely no notion of returning. Except, that is, to tend to his recently deceased grandmother’s affairs. Which is what reluctantly reunites him with Donald. And, man, is there some serious latent hostility festering beneath the skin of these two, played out in not all that passive/angrily aggressive fashion during, among other interactions, a pulverizing playground football game and a furious, aim directly for the head, snowball fight. Pete is not a likable fellow. And his deplorable treatment of Donald can’t instill anything in you but, once again, circling back to my fundamental premise, saturating sorrow.
This is not to say that I inherently disliked “Donald Cried” at all. Avedisian and Wakeman, who have collaborated before on other small-scale projects, are by and large an engaging tandem, and they succeed in generating a real, if not real oddball, chemistry as the movie progresses. And I especially appreciate the fact that this production was shot on location in the actual town of Warwick, often times amidst steady wind-whipped snowfall, which serves to accentuate the uncompromisingly bleak tone of the narrative.
Considering all that we are introduced to over the course of 24 hours in this story, it hardly comes as a shock to anyone that “Donald Cried”. The genuine stunner would be this:
the revelation that this man doesn’t weep openly and without a wisp of restraint every single day he must awaken to suffer a punishing onslaught of remorseless spirit annihilation. No different than the day preceding. And precisely as will be his fate for all the days forthcoming.
Yeah, I gotcher “comic relief” right here, pal.