Despite a strong performance by perennial supporting player Mary Kay Place and an honest look at a character type present in many viewers’ lives, Diane struggles to justify its existence as a full-length work.
Perhaps a bit out of his depth with his debut narrative feature, noted film critic turned documentarian Kent Jones (Hitchcock/Truffaut) crafts a competently made but technically unremarkable drama about Place’s titular do-gooder who’s so invested in the wellbeing of others that she largely neglects herself.
This personal disconnect sets up Diane as a bit of a human time-bomb, though neither the tension with her addict son Brian (Jake Lacy, blessedly not awful for once) nor the numerous supporters in her life (played by such notables as Andrea Martin and Phyllis Somerville) that try and fail to offset her woes yield much reward beyond some slice-of-life relatability.
When the explosion does arrive, it’s authentic and devastating, but gives way to confusing, forced encounters that seem to have been predicated by details from earlier drafts of Jones’ script that are absent in the final cut.
Half-heartedly confronting the reason for Diane’s selflessness, the film plods along yet weaves in an encounter with a Jesus-looking drug dealer that lends the story a personality-rich weirdness lacking from its surroundings.
The psychedelia over all too soon, Diane returns to its middling ways, making one wonder what made Jones want to undertake this project beyond a chance to honor the Dianes in his own circle.
Grade: C. Not rated, but with adult language and content. Now playing at Grail Moviehouse
(Photo: IFC Films)