By Don Simpson | February 19, 2016
This review was originally published on January 29, 2015 after Diamond Tongues’ premiere at the Slamdance Film Festival.
Directors: Pavan Moondi, Brian Robertson
Writers: Adam Gurfinkel, Pavan Moondi, Brian Robertson, Michael Sloane
Starring: Leah Fay Goldstein, Nick Flanagan, Leah Wildman, Adam Gurfinkel, David J. Phillips, Noah R. Taylor, Ryan Wonsiak, Brendan Hobin, Ashley Tredenick, Bo Martyn, Julian Peter, Catherine Stockhausen
Very early in Pavan Moondi and Brian Robertson’s Diamond Tongues, the film’s protagonist Edith (Leah Fay Goldstein) states, “I think this going to be something really special…” Whether purposeful or not, that line serves as a perfect lead-in for Diamond Tongues…
A quirky, struggling actress, Edith has been “busy” auditioning for “real stuff,” though she seems destined to only ever get cast an extra, if anything at all. All of Edith’s friends are landing great roles, so she starts to make up her own success stories just to fit in; and those lies evolve into Edith stabbing friends in the back to sabotage their careers. Worst of all, Edith’s ex-boyfriend suddenly decides to become an actor and achieves immediate success (that is if starring in a film titled Blood Sausage could be considered success).
In the midst of an emotional breakdown, Edith is making all the wrong choices. Edith is filled with so much anger. She wholeheartedly believes that the world owes her something. Though she develops a propensity for lying, it is apparent that the lies hurt Edith even more than the bitter reality of her situation. Every lie she tells is like a self-inflicted stab in her heart, as if she realizes that she is quickly losing control of her mental faculties. Edith’s unbridled obsession with the success of others is truly driving her insane; her ego is on the brink of destroying her.
As part of her self-destructive spiral into the heart of darkness, Edith begins to take risks in her dating life, such as inviting strangers into her apartment and hooking up with someone after a very brief online chat. Her behavior seems borderline suicidal — Edith has totally and completely given up hope.
Diamond Tongues examines what it takes to survive as an actor. First and foremost, the film recommends that you keep your expectations in check. Not every actor can achieve stardom overnight — and fame should not be the driving force behind acting anyway. Success in acting is about timing and luck, but it is also about understanding yourself and playing off of your strengths. While many actors do not like to watch their own performances on film, that is precisely the moment that Edith finds herself humbled and slapped back into reality.
Not your average manic pixie dream girl, Edith comes off as evil, mean spirited, and bratty; yet in Leah Fay Goldstein’s hands, Edith is not entirely unsympathetic. Thanks to Goldstein’s soulful and multifaceted performance, we come to understand the reasons for Edith’s delusional state, as well as the impatience, insecurity and frustration that she feels. Goldstein, who you might just happen to recognize as the lead singer of July Talk, is an amazing talent, but one can only assume that at least part of the success of this character’s development is thanks to the script. At one point, Edith exclaims that writers need actors; but, in the case of Diamond Tongues, it is fairly obvious that Goldstein and the writers shared a mutually symbiotic relationship.