(director/writer: Kent Jones; cinematographer: Wyatt Garfield; editor: Mike Selemon; music: Jeremiah Bornfield; cast: Mary Kay Place (Diane), Jake Lacy (Brian), Estelle Parsons (Mary), Andrea Martin (Bobbie), Barbara Andres (Dallas), Deirdre O’Connell (Donna), Glynnis O’Connor (Dottie), Joyce Van Patten (Madge), Phyllis Somerville (Ina), Danielle Ferland (Birdie Rymanowski), Ray Iannicelli (Al Rymanowski), Celia Keenan-Bolger (Tally), Charles Weldon (Tom), Marcia Haufrecht (Carol Rymanowski); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Luca Borghese, Ben Howe, Caroline Kaplan, Oren Moverman; Sight Unseen Pictures; 2018)
“It’s a poignant and tender drama about aging and atonement for the boomers.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Documentary filmmaker, movie critic and director for the New York Film Festival, Kent Jones (“Hitchcock/Truffaut”), handsomely directs and writes his first narrative feature. Martin Scorsese is executive producer. He co-directed with Jones — A Letter to Elia. Diane is a solid slice of Americana film that was a favorite at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. It’s a poignant and tender drama about aging and atonement for the boomers.
The 70-year-old selfless widow Diane (Mary Kay Place) is a churchgoer who lives alone in a small town in Western Massachusetts. Though no saint (there are hints early on she had a troublesome past that still haunts her and we will learn later on what she did wrong). Diane tries hard to help others in need, while finding support with her family members that include her aunt Ina (Phyllis Somerville) and her aggressive mother (Estelle Parsons). With her dear friend Bobbie (Andrea Martin), she attends bad buffets and listens to her constant stream of complaints without complaining. Diane, as if atoning for past sins, is fervent about making regular visits to a realistic-minded bed-ridden cousin, Donna (Deirdre O’Connell), dying in the local hospital from cervical cancer, and most of all offering tough love to her drug-addict (either from opioids or heroin, unnamed in the film) son Brian (Jack Lacy). He has been in and out of rehab a few times, and seems like a lost cause. Diane visits her son often in his nearby untidy house, sometimes finding him in a drugged-out state. The 30-year-old unemployed kid is a mess and needs help but refuses to be helped, instead lays a guilt-trip on mom for his condition.
The slow-paced story takes its time in a melancholic way to show that getting old means facing not only your own death but the deaths of those you might have known all your life. Place is terrific in this non-judgmental character study, never making things soppy while keeping it all real. Backed by a highly competent supporting cast of mostly stage actors and a sparse narrative offering Bresson-like religious insights. This is a lyrical film about coping with all kinds of memories, a film for adults to ponder.
REVIEWED ON 9/21/2018 GRADE: B https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/