Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Robert Forster, Donnie Wahlberg, Bess Armstrong, Jasmine Guy, Nikki Fritz
Written by: Dan Cohen
Directed by: Dan Cohen
MPAA Rating: R for language and some sexuality
Running Time: 100
Date: 10/01/2000
IMDB

Diamond Men (2001)

3 Stars (out of 4)

A Cut Above

by Jeffrey M. Anderson

When you need a working stiff in your movie, a guy who's worked something like thirty "yeahs" on a "jahb," who else do you cast but Robert Forster?

Forster played such a beautiful working stiff in both Jackie Brown and Lakeboat, a guy with a weary, old soul -- a guy who's tired and ignores it. His sad eyes and permanently five o'clock-shadowed jowls always pop out of the screen. He enhances any character he plays.

Written and directed by Dan Cohen, Diamond Men spends its first third simply watching this old diamond hustler at work. He drives around the country, carrying his "line," (i.e. his suitcase full of diamond samples), has lunch with his customers, and shoots the breeze before selling them a pile of merchandise.

The problem is that Eddie Miller (Forster) has recently suffered a heart attack and his company's insurance won't carry him anymore. He convinces his boss to let him stick around long enough to train a cocky young rookie named Bobby Walker (Donnie Wahlberg).

At first, Bobby makes a nuisance of himself, but the pair become past friends. Bobby becomes interesting in finding old Eddie a girlfriend, since his wife passed away of cancer not too long ago. They visit a remote whorehouse run by an old friend of Bobby's named Tina (Jasmine Guy) for whom he once did a favor. There Eddie meets the hippy-ish but gentle Katie (Bess Armstrong). But Bobby meets someone named Cherry (Kristin Minter) who has trouble in mind for our heroes.

That's where Diamond Men veers slightly off course, forgetting the simple pleasures that make this movie work for something more spectacular, like a safety net for those who get bored too easily. But Forster is still there through the whole thing, and his mug keeps everything in check. Wahlberg even manages to match the veteran actor and turns in a pretty good performance himself.

This is a very small movie, and like Forster's last outing, Lakeboat, it's going to be hard to find for most people. But those who hunt for it will find themselves justly rewarded for their patience.