Release Date: December 7, 2013 (Limited)
Available on VOD platforms December 1, 2013
Director: J.R. Hughto
MPAA Rating: NR
Film Pulse Score: 6.5/10
J.R. Hughto’s Diamond on Vinyl plays out like a psychological thriller minus any actual thrills. That’s not to say it isn’t an interesting watch, just don’t expect any big reveals or a pulse pounding climax. What you can expect however, is a subdued character piece that becomes more rewarding as each layer exposes itself.
The film opens with Henry and Beth (Brian McGuire and Nina Millin), a young couple celebrating their recent engagement at a hotel for a night of champagne and lovemaking. Unfortunately, things end abruptly when Beth finds a tape recorder hidden under the bed and discovers Henry not only taped them having sex, but also rehearsed his proposal conversation as well.
As it turns out, Henry is a bit of an eccentric, and has an odd obsession with conversations. He records people at his work in order to memorize things they say and make himself sound smarter and he endlessly listens to a series of odd “Safe and Sound” records from the seventies.
As chance would have it, Beth and Henry end up meeting and forming a strange friendship with Charlie, played by Sonja Kinski (granddaughter of Klaus Kinski), a photographer and model with her own strange obsessions. Charlie becomes enamored with the couple and begins pushing her way into their lives.
As the tension between these three characters mounts, the film presents itself as something of a thriller, with a looming aura of dread slowly growing as the 95-minute runtime ticks away. This isn’t necessarily the case however, which instead of feeling unfulfilling, or boring, it brings a refreshing, more contemplative conclusion to the table. Too often do these types of movies ramp up the theatrics near the climax and take an unrealistic tonal shift. Diamond on Vinyl keeps things real and focused on the characters’ journey rather than a bloated finale.
This is the deciding factor on whether or not one will like the movie however. Some will most likely find the characters pretentious and self-centered, while others will find them complex and interesting. I fall into the latter category and found it fascinating to watch how Henry’s weird obsession with conversations was taking over his life and the realization that some things aren’t meant to be scripted.
Visually, Diamond on Vinyl is pleasing to the eye, however the cinematography is nothing to write home about. The real highlight some from the sound, which periodically switches from the actor’s actual voices to recorded versions of their conversations that Henry rehearsed using his digital voice recorder. This is an interesting concept that isn’t overly used, and works well as an added flourish.
Diamond on Vinyl is a simple story, but what the plot lacks for in substance, it makes up for in deep character development. It’s a film that requires you to look beneath the surface in order to fully appreciate it. After my initial watch I was feeling slightly indifferent about it, but the more it sat with me the more I came to really like this little tale of love and obsession.