Donald Cried: Cold Shoulder, by Andrew Benjamin
There seems to be a trend with indie/mumblecore type movies currently: there is a protagonist who has some of social awkwardness who is paired up with a “normie” and the two have to coexist for the duration of the movie. It is a throwback in some ways to the buddy comedies of the past like Abbott and Costello, Crosby and Hope, Laurel and Hardy. What those movies did though was make the awkwardness affable between the straight man and the socially awkward character. Donald Cried doesn’t do this unfortunately.
Peter (Jesse Wakeman) is having a bad day. He’s back in the New England town that he grew up in that he put behind him. He has to go to his grandmother’s funeral. He’s also lost his wallet. Most importantly, he reconnects with childhood friend Donald (Kristopher Avedisian). Donald though hasn’t exactly grown up to be an adult mentally. He comes and goes at work and lives with his parents in his room filled with wrestling figures and porn posters. While Peter’s day isn’t going well, it might just hit its peak worse when he has to spend the day with Donald.
I think it’s best to get the negatives out of the way. There aren’t a lot but there is a big one. That’s the character of Donald who is the protagonist of the movie. He is annoying, crass, crude and has no filter. He’s that friend that always invites himself to things and always wants to be around you even if you want some quiet time. That’s a fine character to have in a movie. The problem is this movie expects the audience to sympathize with a character that any reasonable human being would not dare put up with so much. Donald is a good person at heart but that doesn’t excuse his actions in the movie which include interrupting Peter during a make out session, promising to lend Peter money but instead stringing him along on his adventures which include meeting a drug dealer, and just being totally unaware of social normality’s that we expect everyone to follow.
I may sound like I’m throwing shade on the movie. I’m not entirely. There are aspects of the movie I enjoyed. Avedisian plays Donald so annoyingly well (almost too good) and captures his socially insecurities and awkwardness very well. He does give the character dimension that puts him above most characters of this type. Wakeman plays a great straight man and when he’s uncomfortable with Donald, he is able to capture a person that likes his friends despite his faults. There aren’t that many other central characters in the movie. The rest of the cast does play their parts well and bring realness to their roles. They have the look and aura of small town New England people.
The filmmakers also do a great job with setting this move in the winter. Snow is ever present and it gives the movie a cool look instead of a typical bright and colorful setting in the summer. The cinematographers do make the look standout especially in a movie where cinematography isn’t that important compared to the acting and writing.
If you like this genre of movies and the type of character Donald is, this is the movie for you. This movie has been done before in the past and will be done even more in the future. It’s not my type of movie but there are elements that you can find positive about it even if the movie doesn’t click with you.