Movie Reviews

Donald Cried – Facing Your Past

This film has earned its fair share of acclaim since its premiere on the festival circuit, winning an American Independents Audience Award at AFI Fest and being an official selection at the 2016 SXSW Film Festival. If you happen to be in Ottawa, you can see it when it premieres at The Mayfair Theatre tomorrow night, March 24th at 9:15pm.

Synopsis:  Peter Latang left his childhood home of Warwick, Rhode Island to reinvent
himself as a slick, Wall Street mover and shaker.  When he’s suddenly forced to return home to bury his grandmother, he loses his wallet on the trip and ends up at loose ends.  Stranded and broke, Peter looks to the only person he can think of to help him out – his next door neighbour and former childhood friend Donald.The ever-eccentric Donald hasn’t changed a bit, and what starts as a simple favour turns into a long and unhinged van ride into their past.Painfully awkward moments and increasingly bizarre, and dangerous hijinks ensue, as the friends rediscover their stifled aggression and teenage rebelliousness.

Starring: Jesse Wakeman, Kris Avedisian, and Louisa Krouse

Writer: Kris Avedisian

Director: Kris Avedisian

Rating: NR

Running Time: 88mins

Trailer:

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Based on the subject matter, it is easy to find similarities to last year’s Best Picture nominee, Manchester by the Sea, but this is a much different film as it approaches grief in a different way in that it kind of doesn’t which isn’t a bad thing. After the death of his grandmother, Peter Latang (Wakeman) has to return to his hometown to make all the necessary arrangements. For Latang, that was easier said than done as everything seemed to go wrong for him, stranded with no wallet.

In an act of desperation, Peter goes to his childhood friend Donald (Avedisian) for help. Donald was a very eccentric character to say the least. The best way to probably describe him is a man-child. He simply thought differently from everyone else and had a different understanding from everyone else which made most situations fairly awkward. The film played this off for comedic purposes which didn’t always work. Donald was an eccentric character but he never came off as a caricature.

Peter’s favor soon became much more as Donald may have been taking advantage of the guilt Peter had for leaving him many years earlier. He wanted nothing to do with Donald so he begrudgingly kept following him as he had no choice. Throughout their journey, we got to learn about their relationship and each of their wild pasts. Through this, we also see the main difference between the two of them. Peter wanted to forget his past and move on because he didn’t like the person he was but Donald was there to serve as a constant reminder of that life.

Over time, the two faced hurdles, as all relationships do, and grew closer to one another again, remembering all the good times they had and perhaps pushing away the feelings he used to have towards his hometown. The two were fun to watch together because of their great chemistry. Their relationship felt real and grounded and the characters were relatable which made it all more believable and easier to connect with them.

The acting was good but that was really a testament to the script and the writing. The great chemistry between Wakeman and Avedisian made them compelling to watch and elevated the storytelling. They were both real, flawed people. Peter fought so hard against his past but eventually succumb to it and Donald was stuck in that same past but he came to terms with it.

Overall, this was a good film about facing one’s past, featuring real characters and good performances. Donald was not a funny character but it didn’t matter. The title “Donald Cried” wasn’t the best but it’s not the film’s fault.

Score: 8/10

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