DON­ALD CRIED, drama, not rated, Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts,

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No, it’s not that Don­ald. Not Don­ald. This Don­ald, the one who cried, is a sort of Every­don­ald, a man-child with a goofy grin and a puppy-dog ca­pac­ity to ab­sorb slights and come back wag­ging his tail.

For many peo­ple, adult life starts with a re­set but­ton. Get­ting away from the place where you grew up pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity to rein­vent your­self, to take the ag­o­niz­ing lessons of ado­les­cence and re­pro­cess them, Gatsby-like, into some­one more suit­able for mov­ing for­ward.

Peter ( Jesse Wake­man) is a but­toned-up Wall Street type who has left his stoner youth in War­wick, Rhode Is­land, far be­hind. But the death of his grand­mother brings him back to his home­town to set­tle her af­fairs. There, the some­what strained de­vice of a wal­let lost on the bus leaves him un­moored from his power base, and at the mercy of the Fates.

Th­ese show up in the form of a chance meet­ing with his old high-school pal Don­ald (Kris Ave­disian). Don­ald is so happy to see Peter he prac­ti­cally licks his face. Peter could scarcely be less thrilled. If he could blow Don­ald off, he’d do it with­out a back­ward glance. But he is in need of trans­porta­tion and the loan of a few bucks, so he has to grin and bear it.

And so be­gins a cringe-filled trip down me­mory lane into home­town pur­ga­tory. With the aid of a few drinks and a few tokes, Peter sheds a layer or two of his big-city per­sona and re­veals glimpses of his former self. It’s not a par­tic­u­larly pretty pic­ture. He seems to have been a mean­spir­ited jerk as a teen, who some­times treated his buddy Don­ald with a con­de­scend­ing cru­elty. A mu­tual ac­quain­tance re­minds him of a time he made Don­ald cry.

Don­ald hasn’t grown up much since those high school years. He still lives at home, where his room is pa­pered with heavy metal mem­o­ra­bilia and an au­to­graphed poster of a porn star. But be­neath his slop­pily ex­u­ber­ant friend­li­ness we be­gin to dis­tin­guish traces of hurt, and a pas­sive-ag­gres­sive hos­til­ity, with which we can slightly sym­pa­thize as the film tugs our al­le­giances back and forth.

Ave­disian, who co-wrote (with Wake­man) and di­rected the film, cre­ates a large and mem­o­rable char­ac­ter in Don­ald, and de­liv­ers a tes­ti­mony to the premise that you may be able to go home again, but be pre­pared for a painful ex­pe­ri­ence. — Jonathan Richards

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