April 15, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

‘Broken Diamonds’ – A Tender Film Dealing With A Mental Disorder

Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder and one of the top 15 leading causes of disability worldwide.  An estimated 4.9% of those afflicted commit suicide, a far greater rate than that of the general population.  It is characterized by distortions in thinking, perception, and emotions, manifesting in erratic behavior.  ‘Broken Diamonds’ is a tender family film focusing on the relationship between two siblings, one of whom is impaired.  

Based on the very personal screenplay by Steve Waverly, Peter Sattler superbly directs the film with a gentle hand.  The story begins with the 

Yvette Nicole Brown as stepmother Cookie, with Tony and Grammy award winner Ben Platt as Scott in Peter Sattler’s ‘Broken Diamonds’ now screening in select theaters and VOD.

‘Dear Evan Hanson’ star, Tony and Grammy award-winner Ben Platt, who delivers a brilliant, nuanced performance of his character of Scott Weaver.  On his way to sell his car, he is practicing French in preparation for his upcoming trip to Paris, where he has decided to write a book.  But, the road to the City of Lights is paved with challenging obstacles, beginning with the sale of his car falling through. Scott, pretty much a loner, is undaunted in his determination to fulfill his dream but a phone call from his father’s wife Cookie, well played by Yvette Nicole Brown, puts another prick in his balloon as she tells him his father has died.  Saying his last goodbye, Scott folds his dad’s two hands together and gives them a slight pat.  Director of Photography Bryce Fortner’s camera lingers on that moment showing the emotional impact of that gesture without one single word. We next meet his schizophrenic sister Cindy, sensitively played by Lola Kirke. Her dizzying emotional transitions are both subtle and believable.  She has been living at the Crosswinds Mental Facility where she has frequent clashes with her neighbor. Her latest altercation is the last straw and she is no longer welcome to live there.  The administrator tells Scott she has made arrangements with a new facility to take in his sister in two weeks, which is when he’s leaving for Paris.  Because the family has always been fixated on his sister’s problem, Scott has been walking in her shadow his entire life and got used to being invisible to his parents.  Despite that, he has been a devoted sibling and agrees to take her into his apartment for the next two weeks.  Cindy refuses to sleep on his couch and is about to walk out the door.  Her brother reasons with her and gives her his bed.  There is a pivotal moment when Cindy opens her medicine bottle, pours the pills into her hand, but decides to not take the psychotropic drug.  Thus, begins even more wild unpredictable behavior, with Scott at her side trying to save her from herself.  With his trip closing in, he finally receives his passport but, again, is faced with yet another obstacle as his sister inadvertently starts a fire in his apartment and the passport is destroyed. She has a new idea and that is to get a job, which her therapist agrees might be a good move.  Her shrink explains to Scott that while the drugs lower the voices in her head, she still hears them.  He gets her a job as a “bus boy” at his old coffee shop but as you can imagine that employment is short lived.   As the effects of not taking her meds becomes more profound, at one point she does not recognize her brother, sounds are amplified in her head, and she thinks people are following her.  The tension builds as she disappears.  Desperate, Scott goes to the police and gives them a full description of his missing sister, including the fact that she is off of her meds.  In desperation, he calls his mother, who has dementia, for advice.  She tells him he must go to Paris.  If this were a soap opera, which it clearly is not, here are some questions:  Does Scott get on that plane to Paris?  Will he write his book?  Does Cindy go back on her meds?  And, as a sidebar, what is the meaning of the film’s title?  

Ben Platt as Scott with his sister Cindy, played by Lola Kirke.

Director Sattler did an outstanding job in eliciting two credible performances from Platt and Kirke, as well as the supporting cast.  He did not over-exaggerate Cindy’s schizophrenic characteristics as this is a role that could have easily slid into caricature.  He guided the actress in embodying the elements of that mental illness resulting in a sustained performance in which she captured the subtleties and nuances of her character.  While Platt’s character is less extreme or “showy,” he too delivers an actualized characterization of a young man torn between living his own dream contrasted with his sometimes-reluctant devotion to his afflicted sister.  The narrative throughout the film is enhanced by Keegan DeWitt and Dabney Morris’ eclectic beautiful musical score with Robert Hoffman’s excellent editing pinpointing the action.

Ben Platt as Scott tries to calm down his sister Cindy characterized by Lola Kirke in Peter Sattler’s ‘Broken Diamonds’ now screening in select theaters and VOD.

Please don’t let the subject matter stop you from seeing this well-made film.  It’s a tribute to the determination of one sibling to help his impaired sister attain some semblance of normalcy.  If this were a soap opera, which it clearly is not, I could end this review with:  Does Scott get on that plane to Paris?  Does he write his book?  Does Cindy go back on her meds? And, as a sidebar, what is the meaning of the film’s title?  

Distributor: FilmRise
Release Date: Current
Where: In Select Theatres, VOD
Language: English
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Rating: PG-13

Related Posts

Film Review: Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

July 19, 2023

July 19, 2023

FILM REVIEWMISSION IMPOSSIBLE – DEAD RECKONING PART ONERated PG-13163 MinutesReleased July 11th The story in this “Mission: Impossible” chapter, “Dead...

Film Review: Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

July 5, 2023

July 5, 2023

FILM REVIEWINDIANA JONES AND THE DIAL OF DESTINYRated PG-13154 MinutesReleased June 30th The director of Indiana Jones and the Dial...

Film Review: Past Lives

June 27, 2023

June 27, 2023

FILM REVIEWPAST LIVESRated PG-13105 MinutesLimited Releases June 2nd and June 9th, Full Release June 23rd The Korean concept of “In...

Film Review: Sanctuary

June 8, 2023

June 8, 2023

FILM REVIEWSANCTUARYRated R96 MinutesReleased May 19th In my humble estimation, this is one of the best movies of the year....

Film Review: The Little Mermaid

June 2, 2023

June 2, 2023

FILM REVIEWTHE LITTLE MERMAIDRated PG135 MinutesReleased May 26th With today’s technological developments, a live-action The Little Mermaid is not only...

A Riveting Revival of the Pulitzer Prize-Winning “A Soldier’s Play” Now Playing At The Ahmanson Theatre

May 31, 2023

May 31, 2023

On Stage With… Murder mysteries, whether cinematic or theatrical, are one of the most popular subjects. The list is quite...

Film Review: Chevalier

May 12, 2023

May 12, 2023

By Kathryn Boole  RATED PG-13107 MinutesReleased April 21, 2023 Chevalier is based on the true story of a historical figure...

Ballet at the Broad Stage Memorial Weekend – Meet the Talent!

May 10, 2023

May 10, 2023

Westside Ballet of Santa Monica returns to the Broad Stage with special guest artists kicking off Friday May 26th with...

Elizabeth McGovern Lights Up The Stage in “Ava – The Secret Conversations”

April 26, 2023

April 26, 2023

Play About Legendary Screen Star Runs Until May 14 At The Geffen Playhouse By Beverly Cohn Ava Gardner, born Ava...

Unconventional Art Festival “The Other Art Fair” Returns to Santa Monica This Weekend

March 31, 2023

March 31, 2023

140 independent artists, immersive installations, performances, DJs, and a fully stocked bar await visitors at Barker Hangar The Other Art...

Samohi Theatre’s “The Drowsy Chaperone” Takes the Stage in Santa Monica

March 1, 2023

March 1, 2023

Shows will take place at Barnum Hall on March 3 and 4 at 7 p.m. and March 5 at 3...

Film Review: “Marlow”

February 23, 2023

February 23, 2023

FILM REVIEW“MARLOWE”Rated R109 MinutesReleased February 15th “Marlowe” is a beautifully shot period piece that takes place in the late 1930’s....

Film Review: All Quite on the Western Front

February 22, 2023

February 22, 2023

I have never been a soldier at war, although I have close friends and relatives who have been. Universally they...

SMC Emeritus Concert Band to Hold Free Concert This Weekend at the Broad Stage

February 22, 2023

February 22, 2023

Concert February 26 will feature musical selections with an outdoor theme Santa Monica College’s Emeritus Concert Band, under the baton...