With plans of moving to Paris looming, inspiring writer Scott (Ben Platt – The Politician) is eager to escape the realities of his current life and start anew. His plans are put in jeopardy when he is forced to take care of his mentally ill older sister, Cindy (Lola Kirke – Mozart in the Jungle). The clock is ticking as Scott must find a way to take care of his sister while also making his dreams become a reality.
First and foremost, Broken Diamonds is very much Ben Platt and Lola Kirke’s show. With every scene that they are in an emotional heaviness follows that is incredibly relatable yet hauntingly heartbreaking. Platt and Kirke both handle the trauma that Scott and Cindy have gone through in their childhood and adult lives with such care that you can’t help but become invested in their struggles and aspirations. They truly put in some Oscar-worthy performances that should be watched in the year to come.
Towards the end of act one, we are told that the mental illness Cindy is living with is Schizophrenia – to put simply, a mental disorder that affects the perception of reality. This illness is the crux on which Scott and his sister’s relationship is based and as the story progresses, we are slowly introduced to how it has affected their lives. The combination of Platt and Kirke’s acting with Peter Sattler and Steve Waverly directing and writing (respectively) allows for the subject matter to be explored with diligence and care which can’t be said for many films.
Outside of the performances, as alluded to, the writing and directing are the other standouts of this film. The script explores how living with mental illness affects those with it and everyone around them. The directing slowly unpacks this through brief flashbacks that feel like all the pieces are put into place on a puzzle by the end. This was smart of Sattler to do as it keeps the viewer engaged and gives the characters an arc that is neatly wrapped in the end.
Not much else can be said about Broken Diamonds without grossly gushing about it. Everything just worked here. Platt and Kirke should be extremely proud of their performances, and I can only hope that the portrayals of people living with Schizophrenia were done respectfully – which it seemed to have been.
All in all, Broken Diamonds is a triple threat with its acting, writing, and directing. Platt once again asserts his dominance as a dramatic powerhouse (eagerly awaiting Dear Evan Hansen) while Kirke was a pleasant surprise that didn’t become out shadowed by Platt. For anyone looking for a heartfelt drama, give this one a watch – you won’t be disappointed.
Reviewed online (screener provided by publicist), July 21, 2021. Rating: PG-13. Running time: 90 min.
PRODUCTION: (CAN) A FilmRise distribution of a Black Label Media production. Producers: Thad Luckinbill, Trent Luckinbill, Molly Smith, Rachel Smith, Trina Wyatt. Executive Producers: Jon Schumacher and Ellen H. Schwartz.
CREW: Director: Peter Sattler. Writer: Steve Waverly. Cinematography: Bryce Fortner. Editing: Robert Hoffman. Music: Keegan DeWitt and Dabney Morris.
CAST: Ben Platt, Lola Kirke, Lynda Boyd, Yvette Nicole Brown, Christine Lee, Peter Benson, Catherine Lough Haggquist, Debs Howard, and Ben Daon.