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Tuesday
May012018

Tribeca: Mary Kay Place leads "Diane"

Tribeca has ended but we have a few more movies to talk about. Here's by Jason Adams with a movie to keep your eye out for...

Why is it so hard to describe why Kent Jones' Diane works so well? Twice just after seeing it I stumbled trying to do so. Just laying down the plot is insufficienct. It's about an older woman in a small town whose son is a drug addict and whose cousin is sick with cancer. But that makes it sound like something Lifetime coughed up. So you've gotta start with Diane herself. Veteran character actress Mary Kay Place plays her, and already you can feel it. The no-nonsense lived-in vibe of it. The wood grain. Just keep going from there...

Jones' surrounds Place with (dare I say) a true sense of place. This film is a world of interesting and under-sung faces. You're going to hear some well-earned hosannas about Jake Lacy's surprising turn as her son. Not long after its begun this world feels so real, so tangible, like a screen that you've crawled through a la Mia Farrow's Purple Rose. By the last act as time begins to play tricks on us and contract and expand in surprising ways, you're deeply hooked - you're going along with Diane wherever she wants to take you. And take you she does, warmly hand in hand, to some graceful and gorgeous spots. 

And you don't want to let go. Jones' camera mostly keeps its distance, shooting these places and faces with a true Northeastern respect-my-space familiarity. For her part Mary Kay never goes for the jugular with any of the material, knowing full well how to make us lean in and feel something just by virtue of her beautiful stillness.

It all feels so genuine. I want to say "I know these women" because I grew up in a town that looks just like this, an island adrift on patches of thatchy snow, muddy boots and aluminum tins of church food. But I think we all know these women. Or we get to thanks to Diane's ninety blessed minutes with them.

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Reader Comments (12)

To me, Mary Kay Place as an actress has always seemed to be grounded in reality, perceptive, and with a sense of humour. She brightens up the movies she's in.

I haven't seen Jake Lacy in that many things, but I like him too. I liked his turns in Miss Sloane and in Their Finest.

May 1, 2018 | Unregistered Commenteradri

Wow, this looks like an amazing movie. Somehow I get vibes of women under duress who manage (without benefit of sappy happy endings) to make do in dire situations, from Melissa Leo in Frozen River, Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone and Christine Lahti in the forgotten gem Leaving Normal.

I always like Mary Kay Place from The Big Chill to her small screen time in Rodrigo Garcia's female-centric ensemble piece Nine Lives. I am glad Place is finally going ... places (sorry for poor pun).

May 1, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterOwl

YESSS!!! Mary Kay got a lead. I can die now, bye!

May 1, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Yay! I love Mary Kay Place. She and Dianne Weist have amazing, expressive faces. I caught Private Benjamin on HBO the other night, and had forgotten how delightful she was back then, even in small roles.

May 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPam

Wow! This sounds fabulous - a brilliant actress long overdue for such a lead showcase.

May 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Carden

Pity Close seems to have the overdue veteran slot sewn up,I doubt we'd get 2 fine actresses included like these ladies.

May 2, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

I'm back from death to say that I fear this is going to be the Gloria, the Doris or the Grandma of 2018. The movie we all love but no one else cares.

May 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Peggy, you delight me. I would love to see what would happen in Hollywood if one day an actress led drama had an Avengers sized opening weekend. Haha. Could you imagine? Hollywood would either pretend it didn't happen or we'd get 20 films influenced-by (joy) three years later.

May 2, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I always found her performance in The Big Chill to be the standout. How ironic that, some 35 years after her costar got that film's sole acting nomination, here they are in two dramatic features with (I hope) Best Actress possibilities. If they both get in, I'll be thrilled; if either of them wins, I'll be ecstatic.

May 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNewMoonSon

Peggy—let's add I'll See You In My Dreams to that list!

I always thought Mary Kay Place was tailor made for an Oscar run if the right role ever came along. Ditto Jean Smart and Celia Weston. But all would have better chances in supporting actress, I think.

May 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterHayden

Tribeca rarely produces Oscar contenders but this year there were 3: Jeffrey Wright, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and now Place.

May 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMichael R

Who knows, Mary Kay Place could be a first in the Gloria-Hello, My Name is Doris-Grandma--I'll See You In My Dreams group. I wish she would be the Anna of 2018 to at least get nominated with this once in a lifetime role. I wish she THAT lucky!

May 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJack for Streep

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