Emotions grab your heart and eyes, if only the title character knew what she really wanted.
For most of the way through, we’re able to feel the emotions of the characters, whether they cry or argue. “Diane” is a movie that expresses emotions, but somehow, it ends up feeling confused.
Through the writing and direction of Kent Jones, we’re able to read Mary Kay Place, as her character Diane struggles to overcome her emotions. She helps out at the local soup kitchen, visits her terminally ill cousin Donna (Deirdre O’Connell), and worries constantly about her drug-addict son Brian (Jake Lacy).
The relationship between the mother and son in this case is complicated. She tells him to go back to his clinic, while he calls her the “C” word. And when he does eventually clean himself up through the power of religion, he nags to her about going to his church, instead of her own.
For a short while, her friend and co-volunteer Bobbie (Andrea Martin) serves as a somewhat conscience, reminding her that she doesn’t need to always stress out. But as she keeps losing more friends and relatives of her, she begins to deteriorate, and loses faith in herself.
“Diane” is radiant in its characters and their feelings. The title character worries about her loved ones, while worrying about her sad state. She feels pressured by what she has to deal with. Place is perfect in the ways she eases her emotions. And her chemistry with Lacy, O’Donnell, and Martin keeps things rolling along.
The movie looks calm and subtle, thanks to cinematographer Wyatt Garfield (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”) and editor Mile Selemon (“The Adjustment Bureau”). And there are scenes that keep you glued, like one scene when Diane apparently takes drugs and when she deals with her own turmoil.
But I ended up feeling a bit disappointed. I wanted more out the character Diane, like her direction in life. I suppose the movie makes it clear that sometimes life can be confusing for some people, but I wasn’t really rooting for anyone or anything. And when things get confusing, it could subtract your interests. I wanted to like it, but I had to be mutual.
A recent worse example of life was “The Aftermath,” which played like a soap opera for a post-WWII drama, so this was obviously better than that. But a better example was “Gloria Bell,” a remake which gave Julianne Moore the intelligence and strong will of a woman.
“Diane” has its heart in the right place, and I commend everyone involved with the project, including writer/director Kent Jones, but it could have been more honest and consistent.