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Diorama review: A realistic relationship drama that sacrifices entertainment for life lessons

The multiple dioramas the film makes use of to explain different concepts in a relationship becomes too tedious at times, and hampers the course of its storytelling.

2.5/5rating
Diorama review: A realistic relationship drama that sacrifices entertainment for life lessons

  • Shilpa S

Last Updated: 01.01 PM, Sep 09, 2022

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Story:

After years of marriage and three children, Frida and Björn find themselves in a rut. Set routines revolving around their jobs and children wring out every ounce of passion their fiery relationship once had. Diorama explores the various facets of the couple’s life and relationship, through a series of dioramas.

Review:

Films making use of fictional stories to elucidate a particular point is not uncommon. But in the process of conveying its educational message, it is more than easy for filmmakers to lose their way and forget that the primary aim of their work should be to entertain and hold their audiences’ attention from its start to finish. Diorama finds itself a fatality of this very common mistake.

As its name suggests, Diorama makes use of a range of educational, albeit bizarre dioramas to explain the various aspects a long term relationship goes through, focussing on the story of Frida and Björn. Viewers meet Frida and Björn when the couple are still in their so-called ‘honeymoon phase’, unable to keep their passion under wraps and madly in love with each other. But as the years roll on by, routines revolving around their jobs and children set in and the passion in their relationship ultimately fizzles out.

To its credit, the film does a good job at depicting an authentic adult relationship, and does not pull its punches in the slightest when depicting just how easily even the strongest of relationships can have their foundations shaken without any discernible reason. We see Frida and Björn’s relationship go through a rut, as the couple seem to lack a common ground when it comes to their life and family. While Frida is well aware of their problems and actively tries to get Björn on board to do something about it, we see the latter take an entirely different approach, refusing to acknowledge the problem’s very existence. As expected, the duo’s lack of proper communication and address of their needs causes their relationship to implode, with Frida being painted as the ‘bad guy’ in the relationship by her partner. And as the couple try to pick up the pieces, their children find themselves unwittingly a part of their parents’ powerplay.

The writing fleshes out the protagonists in a way that viewers can relate to, even frustratingly so at times. Frida and Björn are painted as people who make mistakes and lose their way countless times, and there are several times when it might seem that the ways to save their relationship are lying right under their nose. But real life is often simple, and almost never easy, and the film chose to showcase just that. Pia Tjelta and David Dencik, who essay the role of Frida and Björn, do a stellar job at conveying the emotions of their characters with the utmost subtlety, for the most part.

However, the story does have its fair share of pitfalls as well, as there are quite a few times where the story’s pace seems uneven. The pace becomes so haphazard at times that it seems as if large chunks of the story is missing. Even pivotal moments in the story seem to have been fast forwarded at times, as the moment where Frida’s mistake which becomes the final straw in her relationship’s destruction is rushed through. Several other important moments suffer from the same treatment, being rushed through despite being important turning points in the story.

The greatest undoing in Diorama becomes the titular aspect of the film, the ‘educational’ dioramas through which the various concepts in a relationship are explored. The bizarre dioramas explore a plethora of concepts such as monogamy, the differences between the male and female biology that impact relationships, the way genetics affect relationships and many more. While the main plot of Frida and Björn’s relationship chose to explore these concepts subtly through its story, the dioramas’ attempts to drive their points home end up being either crass or bland. From feeble attempts at humour through the use of anthropomorphic characters to dull explanations of the concepts that fail to hold the viewers' interests, the dioramas fail to pique the interest of viewers in any discernible way.

Verdict:

Diorama paints an intriguing, realistic portrait of the various facets of a long term relationship through its well written, flawed characters that viewers can identify with. Its downfall comes in the form of the several tedious dioramas that try to offer scientific explanations for the same, which oscillate between crass and bland.

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