DIANE Movie Review
Written by Simret Cheema-Innis
Released by Mean Time Productions
Directed by Michael Mongillo
Written by Matt Giannini and Michael Mongillo
2017, 82 minutes
Jason Alan Smith as Steve
Carlee Avers as Diane
Margaret Rose Champagne as Detective Phillips
Dick Boland as Detective Bernard
Diane is a supernatural-noir thriller with an overwhelming bleakness that sucks you into a world of depressive straits.
When war veteran Steve discovers the body of an attractive woman named Diane in his back yard, he quickly becomes fascinated by her demise.
Seen as the strange-guy in the neighbourhood, the ex-pat who generally keeps himself isolated in what appears like a detachment from mundane society, Steve is harassed by the police who believe he’s a prime suspect. Steve denies any involvement with Diane, whilst tolerating abuse from his juvenile neighbours and work colleagues.
At night, he battles strange dreams of the mysterious woman who continues to plague his thoughts with incoherent messages. It takes a few more realistic apparitions and scares for Steve to believe that perhaps Diane is a ghost trying to send a message. His dreams seem to send him visions of both of them together and he begins to delve deeper into the life of Diane and his possible connection with her.
There’s no doubt that this film is driven by actor Jason Alan Smith who reveals character Steve’s day to day struggle to survive; the contrast of a regimented lifestyle he once had as a war veteran, and the sudden change where his own psychological scars of war and combat mean he can't truly adjust to the world he defended. Although the character Steve is the epitome of loneliness, regret and discontentment, you can’t help but feel mildly happy for him when he finds something that gives his existence meaning beyond the day to day drudgery: A dead girl with surreal if not passionate visions that would whet any man or woman’s appetite.
Finally Steve is happy, even if slightly disturbed by Diane’s ethereal somewhat conjugal visits, it’s no wonder he wants to discover more, it’s probably the best company he’s had in a while.
In a similar way 'The Machinist' was desperately bleak, with it's palette of grey and muted blues, but fantastically other worldly both visually and narratively speaking, Diane alludes an unassuming magnetism which makes you both curious and aroused by the story. It sucks you into a world which at first glance, feels masochistic to watch, the struggle and pain of character Steve and the ignorant people he’s surrounded by in his uneventful world.
There are moments in the film where the supporting cast performances appear to be strained, yet tainted with a touch of slapstick, but luckily Alan Smith’s performance will distract you in his borderline one-man show.
Michael Mongillo's commentary on the concepts of love, passion, adoration and eventual obsession is neatly bound into a clear overall theme of ultimate rejection; Diane will lure you into a sense of unexpected desire.