Broken Diamonds

Family drama from director Peter Sattler (Camp X-Ray) and written by Steve Waverly (writer on television series One Night) attempts to show that blood is thicker than water. Or career aspirations. Scott (Ben Platt – Pitch Perfect, Dear Evan Hansen) is a writer who has long dreamt of moving to Paris to work. He figures it is just the kick in the butt his writing needs and he is desperate to quit his job as a waiter.

That plan seems to go down in flames after the death of his father. Scott plans to use the money from the sale of the house to fund his move to France. The spoke in the wheel of that plan is his sister, Cindy (Lola Kirke – Gone Girl, Lost Girls). His father has left the house in Cindy’s name and she would have to authorize a sale. It doesn’t look like that is going to happen as she needs a place to live.

Cindy is mentally ill and has been thrown out of the facility she was living in. Her schizophrenia leaves her unpredictable and in need of a place to live. Dreams for the tightly wound Scott seem to not going to become reality. Scott tries to help his sister find a job with the aim of getting her to sell the house. It won’t be simple and puts plenty of stress on the already tenuous sibling relationship.

The film debuted recently at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and tells the tale of mental illness but not told from the perspective of the person affected rather from those who take care of them. We see the toll it can take on a family. How tiring it can be for the family members.

Success here relies on the set up of the story and the performance of the two young leads. Platt has proven he has got down and stressed down pat while mentally ill is a first for Kirke. In her tricky role she is not aided by the script’s depiction of schizophrenia. It is basically a caricature. I think with several of the scenes they were going for humour, but often fell short of the mark.

A question I found myself asking was “what happened to Scott being an aspiring writer?” It is the jumping off point at the beginning of the story with Scott needing money to move to Paris and then pretty much dropped for the entire film until the very end. Strange and not very realistic. That combined with the overall predictable nature of what happens makes for a film which does not live up to its potential.

What is a great choice was the decision to use several non-actors to portray others with mental illnesses and their family members. Gave the film a healthy dose of realism. Shows the stresses on a family and how services/facilities for them are lacking.

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