A major step up for Toronto filmmakers Pavan Moondi and Brian Robertson, Diamond Tongues is the rare example of a film set in the entertainment industry that doesn’t use its main character’s profession and location as a crutch. It’s bracing, bold, and far from precious, boasting an outstanding leading performance and razor sharp writing.
Edith Welland (Leah Fay Goldstein) has been struggling as an actress for the past four years in Toronto, hardly ever getting callbacks or offers on anything better than potential leads as a prostitute doctor or a thankless final girl role in a Motel Hell styled rip-off that just so happens to star her novice actor ex-boyfriend. Increasingly desperate and alone, Edith begins a descent into pettiness and bad decisions, both personally and professionally.
Moondi and Robertson clearly understand the industry, but they’ve carefully crafted their film in a way that’s akin to watching great theatre. Despite Edith going to parties where sleazy industry dudes try to get into her pants or numerous shots of instantly recognizable Toronto locations, Diamond Tongues is a story of artistic frustration that could generally happen anywhere in the world. It’s an infinitely relatable kind of experience that matches its leading anti-hero. The film admirably never feels too cool for the room.
The biggest takeaway here, though, is the work of Goldstein, best known as one of the primary members of the band July Talk. She brings a special blend awkwardness, frustration, and sadness that makes the character worth watching (and sometimes even begrudgingly sympathetic) even when she’s at her worst. It’s a well realized character with a fully realized performance. The film co-stars Nick Flanagan, Leah Wildman, Adam Gurfinkel and Bo Martyn.
Diamond Tongues screens again on Wednesday, January 28th at 8:50pm.