Broken Diamonds: Review

Broken Diamonds: Review

Broken Diamonds: Review. By Alif Majeed.

I was excited when I started Broken Diamonds as sibling rivalry, when done right makes for good cinematic fodder. Plus, Ben Platt and Lola Kirke are always a pleasure to watch on screen. I was curious to see how they would work together as siblings. I’m pleased to say they work beautifully as a team. Even though it’s for a movie that mostly follows the indie siblings template on predictable lines.

Ben Platt plays Sylvester, an aspiring writer who works as a part-time waiter. At the beginning of the movie, he plans to move to Paris, no doubt inspired by the roaring ’20s. He then gets a dreaded call that throws a wedge in his plan just as he is leaving. His father dying and his sister Cindy (Lola Kirke, who has schizophrenia, coming under his care, proves too much for him. All this is made pretty clear in the trailer.

What I found interesting is when the focus is on Scott and how he reacts to his sister. When he visits his sister in an early scene, he gets stunned when she sees her sit in a corner while a small fire is slowly threatening to burn down the house. When he asked her if she didn’t know the fire was real or not, the look on his face was enough to get the sense of dread you could think about dealing with that situation that he has no control over.

There are a lot of Platt’s usual ticks that show up over here, but he was marvelous as Scott, and you do see his pain at having to deal with the situation. It might not be a game-changing performance, but it is still an affecting and moving one. 

With mental illness movies, the show-stealing role is mainly with the actor portraying the mental illness. Lola Kirke here gets Dustin Hoffman’s Rain Man role, minus the genius part, and the thing is, sometimes her role almost feels like a parody of that performance. It is no fault of her as she tries and mostly makes her role work. But the shadow of Rain Man and the sibling dynamics is so strong in this movie that it is hard to shake it off. 

Though she gets smothered under the weight of parody, I found a lot to like about her performance. You get a sense of her pain in a couple of scenes, but she mostly comes off as an eccentric pixie version of Dustin Hoffman. Maybe that was the problem, that it was not supposed to be a performance you are supposed to like but feel moved. 

Even the trailer makes it come off as a quirky indie comedy, which is not the case. It’s weird when the trailer often tries to make it look like it follows all the genre conventions, right down to the uplifting music signifying the bond developing among the two broken misfits. Or so it goes.

I did however love that fact that the movie implies it is not just the patient who needs counseling. Often the people around them also might need help to deal with their situation and not overwhelm them when coupled with their problems. It was a wonderful touch that needs to be portrayed and discussed more often. It would have been a much more interesting movie if it focused a lot more on that.

In the end, Broken Diamonds gets afflicted with the curse of the spoiler trailer. It moves pretty much how it is shown in the trailer. Whatever is not shown might not be that hard to figure out. It may not be a game-changer or add anything new to the mental illness movie canon. But you should still watch it for its two very likable stars, Lola Kirke and Ben Platt, whose sibling chemistry makes them a pleasant couple who almost elevates the movie out of the cliched cloth its trailer was cut from.

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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.


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