The indie thriller "Diane," which premiered at the Arena Cinelounge in Los Angeles on September 7 and hits cable and VOD on September 17 puts several new twists on psychological dramas. The overall theme is that new angst in the life of one with a traumatic past can be the straw that breaks the back of the camel.
Central character Steve, who is the subject of the study in the film, is an Afghanistan veteran with physical and psychological scars from that war, The daily existence of this literal and figurative walking wounded man quirky involves performing engine repairs in his garage and regularly visiting local merchants. Beyond that, he mostly keeps to himself in his inherited house.
Steve seeing the corpse of a woman on looking out his bedroom window one morning changes everything. The po po arriving leads to Steve learning that his trespasser is the titular local singer. Hard-nosed Detective Bernard quickly determining that Steve is a person-of-interest, and the local media giving the story prominent coverage begins the Kafka-lite journey for this former soldier.
The concurrent trials of Steve consist of becoming obsessed with his uninvited guest and having Bernard dog him. An aspect of the latter is denying the request of Steve for an attorney at the police station during an intense grilling. The asserted basis for the denial is that the session only is a questioning of a witness. The correct answer is that any interrogation in which someone feels that he or she does not have the option of walking away triggers the right to legal counsel.
Steve also must deal with unstable neighbors and "tourists" both trespassing and creating mayhem. This is not to mention the recent widower of Diane coming knocking with his own agenda. These intrusions lead to fairly obsessive home surveillance.
Meanwhile, Diane increasingly haunts Steve to the point of becoming a full-on tormentor. The awesomely unexpected payoff that writer/director Michael Mongillo provides is a highlight. Diane has a valid gripe with our boy; there merely is more to the story than the surface role of Steve regarding this chanteuse becoming compost.
The overall understated tone of "Diane" is a primary reason that the film succeeds; having our main character being among the 1,000s who return from modern combat heavily damaged adds another good layer. The "it could happen to you" aspect is a further bonus.
The ultimate conclusion regarding an analysis of "Diane" is that it is worth seeing in the theater if only to support indie film. For everyone else, this flick more than stands up against competing fare.
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