Movie Review: “Diamond Tongues”

leah

It’s hard to fall in love with — or even like — Edith Welland.

Hell, it’s almost impossible.

Self-absorbed and scattered, cute but not gorgeous, perky but resentful and mean, she’s a Toronto actress with four years of failure under her belt. And she’s bitter about it.

And delusional.

“I think I’m really good.”

Edith (Leah Fay Goldstein) networks, goes to parties, sees her peers starting to have a glimmer of success. So she lies, stealing their credits and latest opportunities when someone asks her “What’re you working on?”

“Isn’t it great how it’s happening for all of us at the exact same time?”

Only it isn’t. Social media, where her friends share their triumphs, just makes her crazier.

Yeah, you could see her ditching her boyfriend “to concentrate on my career.” And spitting (literally) in his (Adam Gurfinkel) face when he takes up acting and effortlessly surpasses her.

You sense that she’s capable of sabotaging her roommate’s (Leah Wildman) play, wrecking a Facebook friend’s “big break” audition or trying to bluff her way into a call-back for a role in the Z-grade horror picture she’s up for, “Blood Sausage.

“Diamond Tongues” is a witheringly funny but still sympathetic portrait of a show business “type” — really, the only showbiz type — the needy, relentlessly optimistic narcissist who tricks him or herself into believing he or she is “special,” and not just somebody with “good looks, and a degree of talent.”

That’s what it takes — all navel gazing, all the time.

Goldstein, whose day job had been with the Canadian band July Talk, embodies the arrested development of an acting dilettante. Edith insults the older “producer” running an acting workshop with a “those who can, do” line, but still sleeps with him in the mistaken belief that it will further her aims.

Edith shows up for auditions without a headshot, can’t be bothered to get her agent or the guy she wants to hire to edit together her reel — the clips of her appearances as “annoyed woman” and the like. She dreams of droning movie star banalities on her favorite chat shows, but cannot be bothered to do the basic work it takes to have that success.

Co-writers/directors Pavan Moondi and Brian Robertson and Goldstein let us see the rising bile beneath the ditziness Edith presents to the world. There’s an ugliness that creeps in, no matter how much she smiles, no matter how dolled up she gets.

But as Edith’s self-awareness grows, so does her beauty, a kind of “world gives you back what you put out there” self-help ethos visualized through makeup, hair and Edith’s inner light.

It’s a cute transformation. And “Diamond Tongues” — the film takes its title from an earlier Edith experimental film about to come out — delights even as it reminds us of why it’s always helpful to wear earplugs while standing in line at film festivals.

All that upbeat “Me me me” from the punter/filmmakers and wannabe stars and starlets is grating, and the mere effort to resist rolling your eyes at each and every too-loud conversation about glories to come is just exhausting.

3stars2
MPAA Rating: unrated, with sex, profanity

Cast: Leah Fay Goldstein, Nick Flanagan, Adam Gurfinkel, Leah Wildman
Credits: Directed by Pavan Moondi, Brian Robertson, script by Pavan Moondi. A Mongrel Media release.

Running time: 1:39

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