“Donald Cried” Walks the Line Between Comedy and Tragedy

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Courtesy of The Orchard

What starts as a tragic series of events slowly transforms into a cringe-worthy friendship in the film, “Donald Cried.” The hostage-like relationship between Donald and Peter is almost hard to watch, yet suspenseful at the same time.

By Anubhuti Kumar, Staff Writer

A banker heads back to his Rhode Island suburb to deal with his grandmother’s final affairs. The trip should be business-like and tinged with sadness, but instead, the ordeal is awkward and difficult to watch — but still hard to turn away from.

“Donald Cried” begins with Peter Latang (Jesse Wakeman) exiting a cab and realizing he has lost his wallet. Thus enters the titular character Donald (Kris Avedisian), Peter’s old neighbor and childhood friend, who agrees to help him run errands in order to make arrangements for his grandmother’s affairs.

This friendly favor quickly escalates into a cringe-worthy one. Donald agrees to help Peter, but his help starts to feel more like a hostage situation as he drives Peter to the funeral home. Instead of letting Peter get on with his business in peace, Donald insists he come with, saying that he was under the impression they would hang out. It’s hard to watch Donald nearly beg for a friend, but the film compels the audience to have patience and see how far the man will go.

Donald’s deep-seated desire to rekindle his friendship with Peter constantly conflicts with his rivalry with him. He gets increasingly violent and aggressive and acts out in instances such as a friendly game of football. He consistently embarrasses Peter in front of old high-school acquaintances whom they run into or whom Donald insists they visit. Donald’s unyielding, almost eerie grin makes its presence known at nearly every moment of the film and masks underlying tension between the characters. Donald is desperate to reconnect with his old friend, seemingly unable to move on with his life and develop new relationships.

Donald’s innocent and goofy awkwardness conflicts with his borderline sociopathic monologues about robbing the bank Peter works at, stalking him on a date with an old flame or acting out a scene with an unloaded gun. At time, it is impossible to tell whether or not Donald’s threats carry any actual weight. The ultimate speech by this lonely 30-year-old man-child occurs when Donald recounts the story of a fatal motorcycle accident with his signature smile still plastered on his face.

“Donald Cried” creates a tense suspense for what is to come. Is Donald dangerous or just unable to take social cues? It’s scary at times, and at others just plain sad. Though audiences might be grimacing through the entire film, Donald’s desperate need for friendship captivates and leaves viewers needing to know if “Donald Cried” ends in comedy or tragedy.  

“Donald Cried” will open theatrically on Friday, March 3 at the Angelika Film Center.

Email Anubhuti Kumar at [email protected].