DVD Review: The Last Diamond (2014)

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Pitting Yvan Attal’s thieving con artist opposite Bérénice Bejo's sophisticated mark, The Last Diamond spins together a classy yet convoluted yarn of caper movie cat-and-mouse that begins with Attal fresh out of jail and hot on the trail of the legendary (and long-rumored to be cursed) Florentine diamond he hopes will be his final score.

From exotic international locales to assumed identities, not to mention the obligatory third act complication of love vs. money when Attal falls for Bejo, while he isn't always successful, Last Diamond co-writer and director Éric Barbier tries to inject some new French twists into the tried and true tropes of one of his country's favorite genres.

Relying on not only plot twists but pace and top-notch editing to try and disguise the fact that together its two undeniably talented and attractive leads generate very little onscreen heat, Diamond is proof that a filmmaker can fake nearly everything except sexual chemistry.

Moving so quickly at times that it fails to take full advantage of some truly inventive character-based complications (including a classic "locked room" mystery that puts everything in motion), while we find ourselves wanting to know more about our two endlessly fascinating yet underwritten leads, Barbier assures us again and again that he has no shortage of ideas.

Making the most of charismatic Yvan Attal's versatility as an actor running multiple cons as multiple characters in a film that reteamed the gifted actor (and filmmaker in his own right) with his Serpent director, Attal steals focus throughout Diamond in the film's sharpest role as the would-be jewel thief.

Largely overshadowed by the machinations of Diamond's serpentine plot, in her under-utilized role, Bejo is unable to let loose or let us in until her character is subsequently given the same opportunity (far too) late into the film.

Hoping to bring everything together in a confusing and overcrowded final act, The Last Diamond leads viewers through a veritable maze of twists and turns which, despite their entertainment value, are so overwrought that it'd be an impressive feat if you could explain let alone recall even half of everything that happened a week later.

And although it aims for buoyant Ocean's Eleven style charm by way of a fun bookend scene that finds Attal plying his trade as a drunken naked hotel guest, after so much ping-ponging back-and-forth in tone from comedy to Noir, we find ourselves unconvinced of its success overall on either front.

Alternating from disappointingly average to amusingly inspired, Diamond is ideal entertainment for a lazy evening of armchair travel at home.

Yet with so much French caper talent to spare, it’s both hard not to imagine what might have been and easy to believe that both heist subgenres might've worked better if only the writers and editors had chosen precisely which yarn they wanted to spin back when they were still deciding just who would be the cat and who would be the mark.

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