Eye For Film >> Movies >> Diane (2017) Film Review
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
A tall, slender figure. A shimmering black dress. Eyes that seem focused on something remote. Diane (Carlee Avers) is the perfect image of the nightclub singer. She opens the film, made distant by the stage, only her voice connecting, singing somebody else's words. She's a projection of other people's fantasies; it's hard to make out where the illusion ends, to find the find the real woman underneath.
Sitting among the bricks in Steve's garden, wearing only her underwear, Diane looks like a figure from a different kind of fantasy. She's so perfect, Steve (Jason Alan Smith) thinks, that he has to have a photograph. A memento. Diane, on his phone, bloody, dead.
Even though they miss this moment, the police see him as their main suspect. He' a similar age, the same race, it's his back garden, and statistically the killer is usually the person who finds the body. Steve protests that doesn't mean it's true in this case. He resents being pigeonholed based on his past military service, his disability, the occasional bouts of aggression that are symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder, and he really resents the suggestion that the fact he finds her attractive means he must have killed her. As the police observe him, he tries to get back to his daily routines and ignore the hostile neighbours who are glad of an excuse to treat him still worse. But he can't get rid of the vision of Diane, even when he ignores the picture, even when he closes his eyes. He can't shake the sense that she's haunting him. Why?
If some suspension of disbelief is required to accept the premise of Michael Mongillo's film, it's earned by Smith, whose troubled character is more sympathetic because he makes no effort to be liked. The photograph may make us uncomfortable for myriad reasons, but it seems less unreasonable in the hands of a man who has watched friends die, whose different perspective has prevented him from making new ones since he got back. Steve is practical and seems a straightforward sort of guy, even if his efforts at playing detective are a little clumsy. Smith keeps us with him as Diane becomes a more solid figure in his thoughts, though never without mystery.
Avers works hard to ensure that we catch glimpses of the human being at the heart of Diane's mystique. There are times when the incessant male gaze implies that she, too, has had difficulty accepting her reality. We've seen this narrative before, of course, but self-awareness makes all the difference. Mongillo shifts his style, sometimes abruptly, between the familiar distance of the crime thriller, the soft focus world of Steve's thoughts, and the unvarnished world Diane inhabits - or inhabited.
Diane is screening at this year's Frightfest, but quite where the horror lies within it is open to interpretation, and shifts along with the narrative. Ostensibly simple, it becomes a difficult film to pin down - and behind it all is an acceptance of familiar tragedies that's every bit as disturbing.Reviewed on: 25 Aug 2017