Friday, March 3, 2017

The most embarrassing "old friend" of all time? Kris Avedisian's DONALD CRIED opens

The not-exactly-new tale of a man who has left his boyhood town and returns there to handle the estate of his deceased grandmother but -- thanks to the loss of his wallet -- must suddenly rely on the good will of an old "friend" is given a whoppingly bizarre but very good telling in the new film opening today, DONALD CRIED. Written and directed by and starring Kris Avedisian (shown at right and below), the movie immediately turns Mr. Avedisian into a moviemaking triple threat. This is a performance -- and a film (if you can last it out) -- that you are not likely to forget.

Cringe-inducing does not begin to describe the effect that Mr. Avedisian, playing the doofus Donald of the title, will have on audiences. And yet so thoroughly and deeply has Avedisian seemed to explore this character that Donald actually grows on you as the movie unfurls. So, too, does the only other character of note here, Peter, played by Jesse Wakeman (below), who also contributed to the film's story. Wakeman plays the usual uptight, successful "business" type who, apparently somewhat popular in high school, could not wait to leave his little Rhode Island town and never went back. Until now.

The odd and extended little dance these two characters do together, as they joust and parry, circle and sort-of bond, slowly shows us that Donald may not be quite as goofy and clueless as he usually appears, while Peter is not the solid tower of strength he might like to be.

Yet the film is certainly no kind of mystery -- unless you include the mystery of human character, of course -- so don't wait for that other show to drop. No, this is a character study, of two quite different characters whom we see now and also get a pretty good sense of who they were back then.

For all practical purposes, the movie is a two-hander. The only other character of note is a young woman played by the fine Louisa Krause, whom Peter hopes to hit on, and we do get one nice scene featuring Donald's mom and two featuring his step-dad, who seems a major asshole (Ted Arcidi, below, right, handles this role with nasty aplomb).

Donald Cried is a movie of very small, incremental change. But the change is there. By the end, you'll feel it, I think, and one hell of a lot more strongly, if quietly, than you ever would have expected.

From The Orchard -- though you can't find the film on that company's web site: What gives? -- and running 85 minutes, the movie opens today in New York City at the Angelika Film Center and in Los Angeles at the Landmark NuArt. Elsewhere? Yes, it'll be all over the country in the weeks to come. Click here to see all currently scheduled playdate, cities and theaters.

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