Don’s Plum

Year: 2001
Director: R.D. Robb
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Kevin Connolly
Written by Patrick Alexander

You know you’re a film junkie when you find yourself watching low-budget, sub-arthouse films like ‘Don’s Plum’. This raunchy, provocative film is somewhat of a cult (not-so) classic after being banned from release in North America. Yes, you read that right: BANNED. Not because it’s some X-rated calamity either, but because budding stars of the time, Leo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire, buried the project during a time when they found themselves on the precipices of stardom. Filmed in 1995, the black and white picture went underground for six years before it was released in Germany in 2001 to mixed reviews. Some speculate Leo was just helping a friend with his film-school project and it got leaked, while others simply call it an unpleasant act of indiscretion on the parts of the young actors. The history is rather hazy, as many of its main contributors refuse to comment on its very existence.

The sensationally acted film follows a group of eight friends one evening as they shoot the shit at a local bar/diner called Don’s Plum. It features DiCaprio as a contemptible jerk whose actions during the night of conversation include slut-shaming a woman, mocking retardation, crassly broaching the topic of suicide, and dropping so many f-bombs you’ll forget it’s a curse word. Tobey Maguire chimes in as the bashful, wannabe-smooth but ultimately softhearted compass of the group, and Kevin Connolly constantly adds his two cents, feeling out a character that would irrefutably later become the Eric we know from ‘Entourage’. As the night waxes and wanes, the friends converse on coarse topics, exploring everything from sexual activity to domestic abuse to homelessness; really cheery stuff, right. From reading this paragraph you should be able to deduce why Leo never wanted his fans to catch light of ‘Don’s Plum’.

Aesthetically, ‘Don’s Plum’ auditioned a myriad of techniques that lead me to believe it may have actually been a buddy’s film-school project after all. First off it went full black and white, a bold move that only a handful of modern films ever pull off. Additionally, it ran heavy on theatrical monologues amongst the characters, including mockumentary-esque bathroom mirror scenes where the characters bare all, unloading their authentic feelings and reactions to the night’s proceedings, often offering a hilarious insight. Further, according to the rumor mill, the film was improvised almost completely, with the characters literally doing and saying whatever they wanted throughout. Lastly, the movie is mainly a bottle picture, meaning it takes place in entirely the same setting. That’s four incredibly ballsy, insanely awesome, experimental cinematographic gambles all in one film.

‘Don’s Plum’ is not a film you watch for pleasure. More a film you watch for pain, or the pain of its reality stuck inside its own introspective, adventurous mind. At times, it’s impossible to discern what it’s even about; I know film professors who couldn’t even solve the thematic riddle that is ‘Don’s Plum’. Hell, I’m not even advocating that you see it. You’ll probably find it terrible and turn it off before the halfway point. I’m not here to waste anybody’s time. Perhaps it truly is shit. Or maybe it’s the best American film you’ll never lay your eyes upon. Who knows? I certainly don’t.

Patrick’s rating: 6.5 out of 10