Broken Diamonds : Film Review
Ben Platt is a long way from the Dear Evan Hansen Broadway featured as a young aspiring novelist trying to deal with the fallout from his sister’s latest setback with mental illness in Peter Sattler’s second feature film, Broken diamonds. This sensitive and compact indie drama represents an abrupt departure from the harsh military tension of X-ray camp, Sattler’s debut starring Kristen Stewart as an Army private stationed at Guantanamo Bay.
Tactfully addressing some of the often sensational issues surrounding schizophrenia, Sattler and screenwriter Steve Waverly craft a topical and emotionally accessible film that should easily connect with sympathetic viewers, particularly those familiar with the debilitating effects of the problems. chronic mental health.
An accessible and sympathetically watched independent drama.
Tony and Grammy Award winner Platt, who will reprise the title role in Stephen Chbosky’s Universal Pictures adaptation of Dear Evan Hanson (billed as the Toronto festival premiere this week), he plays restaurant waiter Scott, who has big plans to move to Paris and finally write his debut novel. As he begins to finalize the details of his departure, Scott’s stepmother Cookie (Yvette Nicole Brown) calls out to him with devastating news: his father unexpectedly passed away in his sleep. Trying to overcome a pervasive sense of ambivalence over the death of his sometimes distant father, Scott immediately contacts his schizophrenic older sister Cindy (Lola Kirke), who lives in a nearby residential care facility.
The film’s initially uneven tone causes Sattler and Waverly to briefly stumble by injecting incongruously weak humor into the opening scenes of the inevitable sibling conflict between Scott and Cindy. While the filmmakers ‘penchant for avoiding handing over the narrative to the darker side of mental illness may be admirable, the siblings’ periodic childhood flashbacks, dominated by Cindy’s worsening psychological state and severe parenting style. their father, they quickly change the tone towards a more intense character. drama.
Kirke plays Cindy as a confused and disgruntled adult girl whose incessantly troubled state of mind prevents her from fully absorbing her father’s passing. Instead, he obsessively pursues a little vendetta against a neighbor, leading to a physical altercation and his expulsion from the mental health facility. With nowhere else to go, Cindy reluctantly moves in with Scott, who gets stuck babysitting her until he can find a new home. Cut off from her family routine and frequently skipping her antipsychotic medications, Cindy begins to behave erratically, threatening her own safety and forcing Scott to re-evaluate his plans for Paris.
Rather than sensationalize Cindy’s grief with violent incidents or melodramatic confrontations, Sattler strategically reveals some of her most obviously unbalanced episodes with empathy and tact. At a party hosted by an old high school friend, for example, intense questioning from her former classmates and her crushes over her ten-year absence from the social scene lead her reflexively to the ground in yoga contortions while her former classmates look at her in bewilderment. However, only more severe symptoms of psychosis are hinted at, such as when Cindy’s social worker tells Scott that her sister hears voices and imagines non-existent romantic interests, suggesting that she may even be suicidal.
However, Sattler’s comprehensive perspective on Cindy’s psychological challenges comes at the expense of developing some key plot points, particularly not including scenes in which Scott is writing or researching his planned novel that is the impetus for his trip to Paris. However, as long as he’s not expected to fill random gaps in the script, Platt is well suited to the role of a troubled and troubled young man trying to reconcile his personal ambitions with unpredictable family dynamics.
Platt occasionally struggles to capture these more authentic emotional moments and without a musical number at the ready, his studied reactions to Cindy’s frequent breakdowns can seem a bit forced, though it makes the family relationship completely believable. Despite her talents, Brown doesn’t have much to do here as a widowed stepmother, gradually losing contact with Scott and Cindy after her father’s death.
Restricted by the psychological condition of his character, Kirke’s performance is not as substantive as more memorable twists in the likes of Girl is gone or the entertaining enigmatic Geminialthough he clearly understands Cindy’s confusion about her illness and shows a knack for exhibiting an often repulsive antisocial attitude.
Although Sattler’s well-intentioned approach tends to soften the adverse effects of mental health problems, it is a perspective that contextualizes and humanizes those affected as identifiable and worthy of respect.