REVIEW: Verite Magazine – Ego is vulnerable and volatile in Diamond Tongues – Slamdance
NOTE: This review contains spoilers
Pavan Moondi and Brian Robertson’s Diamond Tongues is certainly something of an acquired taste. At first, the filmmakers seem content to wander unintelligibly through hipster bars fringed with trendy haircuts, mis-matched outfits and horn-rimmed glasses. For those with a low tolerance for what has depressingly become the bread and butter of US indies these days, you might well be tempted to abandon Diamond Tongues after the first fifteen minutes.
Leah Goldstein’s performance as the earnest but unsuccessful actress Edith Wellend proves equally as alienating, with its initial lack of conviction and mannerisms that border on cliche. Both she and the film appear to be trying way too hard, but as with most acquired tastes, they require time, commitment, deeper exposure, and a closer look, and once you’re hooked, you simply can’t get enough.
Somewhere along the way, Edith’s awkwardness and Goldstein’s forcibly posed performance reveals its point, morphing into a subtly penetrating portrait of dangerously vulnerable and volatile ego. As her own career stalls and she becomes riddled with anxiety, there’s an uncomfortable but irrefutable relatability to Edith’s struggle and her uncensored envy of her best friend’s success, which pushes her to act out in damaging ways that are impossible to look away from. With this comes the depressive realisation that Edith is always pretending, and trying way too hard in the wrong ways without having the first clue about the right ones. She’s lying, not only to all the people around her who are supposed to be her friends, but just as hurtfully to herself. Everything unnatural about Goldstein’s performance comes to sublimely signify the internal struggle Edith is losing, the measure of her inhuman behaviour and how uncomfortable she is in her own skin.
Edith’s does some awful things, and her moment of self-realisation comes much later than the viewer’s, during a blundering apology speech with all the subtly of a sledge hammer. A more on-point prognosis of everything wrong with her is the scene immediately preceding her acknowledgement of wrongdoing, in which Edith watches, for the first time, one of her own performances on screen. Just as in life, what’s wrong with Edith is wrong with her acting; namely her refusal to open up, be real, or let anyone in. Such honest examination by literally coming face-to-face with herself, prompts Edith to examine not only how many lies she’s willing to tell about others, but just how many more she’s willing to believe about herself. It’s a beautifully brutal moment of a character hitting rock bottom, with nowhere left to go but up.
-SPOILERS-Ending in the mawkish manner of a slow trudge down a street that slowly ramps into a giddy-smiled run of freedom, symbolic of a new beginning as rain washes away the remnants of the life that came before it, you have to wonder if such shopworn indie staging isn’t Moondi and Robertson’s way of wryly commenting on how easy it is for Edith to continue lying to herself.-END SPOILERS- True to a character who has a hard time being true with herself, Diamond Tongues is subversively honest about pathological disingenuousness.
Source: Verite Film Mag