Tuesday, June 30, 2015

NXNE Film Review - Diamond Tongues

The daily struggles of unnamed film extras who's names appear towards the end of film credits or not at all are the focus of directors Pavan  Moondi and Brian Robertson's film Diamond Tongues. The Actors, writers, producer/directors take public transit or walk to auditions, meet with their agents and talk up projects that they are in, badmouth the ones that are not and through around industry buzz words like sides and reel as they meet each other on the street, small time industry events or in local bars. The films central character Edith Welland (Leah Goldstein) first appears on screen out front of a building as the film crew packs away equipment at the end of a shoot. She talks about how the cast and crew of this film were like family but the crew have no idea that she was in the production then Edith proudly explains that she played the Angry Customer. 

Edith best friend Nick (Nick Flanagan) is working on the second most popular Canadian television show Dog Husband that has just been picked up for another year. As they are in conversation Edith immediately begins to tear down the show talking about how dumb the title is starting the theme of undercutting that is prevalent throughout the film.  Being a poor struggling actor means you need a roommate to share the bills.  Edith's is Clare (Leah Wildman) a fellow actor who is running lines for a play that's about to open Happier for All of Us.  Our protagonist is vocally supportive of her room mate but from her facial expressions its clear she is hoping that the play fails. The last main piece of Edith's world is her attempt to cope with the recent break up with her boyfriend of 2 years Ben played by the film's writer Adam Gurfinkel. Edith called off the relationship to focus on her career but she constantly talks about him, fellow actors she meets in her travels ask how he's doing putting his presence always near the top of mind.

Garfunkel crafts an offbeat script for this film.  It is obvious that he is very familiar with this world all the way to the sleazy older Acting School teacher that is willing to waive the exorbitant fee for a
a cute actress that will pay him a little extra attention. The dialogue between the actors is very believable. The viewer would think that an actor would do whatever they could to promote themselves and sell their brand. While on the other hand outwardly wishing fellow colleagues the best but hoping that they do not succeed. However Edith takes the second part of this scenario to a special place.  She gives colleagues projects 1 star on IMDB logging in nightly before she goes to bed. She tears down posters of her roommates play as she encounters them on utility poles around the city. She shows up at auditions as a not successful call back, hangs around the receptionist picks a name that was not crossed out and says that she is that person back for her second read. Making her clearly a candidate for the most unlikeable lead character of the year.

Leah Goldstein grows on you in the role of Edith.  Her uneven deliver of the lines and search for tonal range early in the film takes some getting used to but Goldstein shines with her non verbal expressions as she uses these traits to project her true feelings of colleagues successes and projects while on the surface she is smiling, nodding and appearing to be supportive.  Nick Flanagan plays the other large role as Edith's best friend Nick. Flanagan hurls the insults back and forth with Edith and at one point remarks that they are only friends because no one else would be friends with either of them.

Diamond Tongues is a unique take on a mundane, small, destined for failure community who in many instances have to take other jobs to keep their acting careers alive. The production shows this world at its raw cutthroat lowest with no expectation of a feel good redemption at the end of the journey.  It is a film I can recommend

*** Out of 4

Diamond Tongues | Pavan Moondi / Brian Robertson | Canada | 2015 | 100 Minutes.

Tags: Auditions, Extra, Play, Roommate, Agent, Writer/Producer, Toronto, Public Transportation, Ex-Boyfriend.

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