Diane (2018)

Director: Kent Jones
Writer: Kent Jones
Cast: Mary Kay Place, Jake Lacy, Estelle Parsons, Andrea Martin, Deirdre O’Connell, Glynnis O’Connor, Joyce Van Patten, Kerry Flanagan, Phyllis Somerville, Celia Keenan-Bolger
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 6.11.2018

Diane (Mary Kay Place) spends most of her time taking care of others, at least when she isn’t trying to connect to her son Brian (Jake Lacy) who has been addicted to drugs for a long time. But she can’t convince him to seek professional help. As she fills her days delivering food here, visiting her cousin Dottie (Deirdre O’Connell) in the hospital, and meeting up with her neighbors, her past keeps catching up with her, though.

Diane starts off well enough, but once we delve a little deeper into Diane’s motivation, the movie did start to annoy me – despite some excellent things about it.

The film poster showing Mary Kay Place lighting a candle.

The movie starts with showing what a tight-knit community Diane moves in. Everybody helps everybody here. But when we start to look at why Diane does what she does and it turns out that her altruism is basically her attempt at atonement, it felt like the entire sense of community the film builds on at first, falls apart. You start to wonder if everybody is basically calculating how much good they have to do to outweigh their sins (with the insinuation that should the point of balance ever be reached, all good deeds would immediately stop) – and really, what kind of community works on that basis?

For me, this self-contradiction really got on my nerves. I was also annoyed because there are so many people, especially women, who I know who work their entire lives for others for many reasons (not all of them good, or even healthy) and the atonement angle just rubbed me the wrong way because of that, too. Of course, I can see that some people do really try to atone that way, but somehow in this case, I didn’t want to let it stand in that way.

Mary Kay Place in the film.

Maybe the fact that the film works a lot with repetitions and has a pretty slow pace added to my feeling of impatience with it, resulting ultimately in my less than enthusiastic response.

That being said, there were some really good things about the film. Mary Kay Place is fantastic, as is Jake Lacy. The supporting characters feel very realistic, which I also enjoyed. The scene in the bar where Diane starts to dance was amazingly good. And there were some moments where a very nice sense of humor shines through. But still, the film just didn’t come together for me.

Mary Kay Place and Jake Lacy in the film.

Summarizing: interesting enough, but didn’t work for me.

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