‘Diamond Tongues’ a charmless disappointment
New film from Kitchener native disappoints in its attempts to be charming
Charm is a funny thing. It can take an annoying or despicable character and make them not only watchable, but entertaining, thrilling and truly compelling. However when it is missing it can drain a movie of all life and humour that its script may touch on.
Diamond Tongues is the second film from director, and Kitchener native, Pavan Moondi and it is completely devoid of charm. It doesn’t help that it’s eerily similar to Frances Ha, another indie film that examines a directionless blonde 20-something, but it’s still not a good film.
Leah Goldstein plays Edith, a wannabe actress living in Toronto who spends the run time auditioning for movies and socializing with industry people and just generally fooling around town while looking vaguely lost and depressed. Edith is a whiny character that seems to like no one and that no one seems to particularly like. She’s like a train wreck we’re watching in slow motion except we’re never given a reason to care about her.
The director is mugging Noah Baumbach’s style, but without anything particularly interesting to say. Maybe it’s that the film is about the film industry and whatever point he’s trying to make feels like oh-so-cute meta-commentary on being a movie maker in Canada. However it never feels like there’s any real commentary because the star of the film is such a lifeless performer. She always has the same dead stare no matter what’s happening. She has no arc, no sense of self awareness that you would expect out of an actress in her 20s with as many friends as she has. I can’t imagine in a million years this character could make it big in the movie industry, which makes most of the film feel utterly pointless. Pointless in all of its mumblecore mugging, synth-Canadiana playing and awkward-as-charming glory.
Late in the movie Edith attends a premiere for the film-within-a-film Diamond Tongues, which she starred in. Her director tells her that she gave her character soul and that her performance was phenomenal. It’s supposed to be a high point of her emotional arc, but by that point in the film Edith has crossed over from just being annoying to being the equivalent of a mix of Navi from the Zelda series and Tinkerbell. Making decisions that are not only stupid, but feel unreal and inconsequential. The Edith we meet at the beginning of the film is not developed at all, making all of her actions in the second half of the film feel uncharacteristic of the Edith we’ve been watching. This makes the whole experience all the more infuriating.
Diamond Tongues is by no means the worst film of 2015 nor is it the worst indie film to come out of Canada in recent years. It’s just an unfortunately bland film obviously aiming for depth and instead comes off as pretentious and shallow.