“Diving Normal” is a poignant, often introspective drama whose few lapses into melodrama are outweighed by the strong character work in the film’s unlikely love triangle.
Based on a play by Ashlin Halfnight, who adapted the script with actor-producers Scotty Crowe and Philipp Karner, the film tracks the odd couple friendship between Brooklyn neighbors Fulton (Karner), a handsome graphic novelist, and Gordon (Crowe), a hyper-attentive library staffer with, it would seem, Asperger syndrome (though it’s never identified). Enter Fulton’s old high school classmate, Dana (Susie Abromeit), a model-beautiful health worker who’s in recovery for drug and alcoholic abuse.
Although the skittish Dana’s emotional scars run deep, she allows herself, against the advice of her addiction counselor (Tonye Patano), to fall for Fulton and they begin a romance. At the same time, she befriends the endearingly wonky Gordon, rooting him on as he practices diving at the local YMCA pool. But unbeknownst to Fulton and Dana, Gordon develops nonplatonic feelings for her. And that, of course, cannot end well. Or can it?
Nicely directed by first-time feature helmer Kristjan Thor, who rarely betrays the material’s stage roots, the film takes a few rough turns that lead to Dana’s inevitable bottoming out. Otherwise, this well-acted piece is a gentle, humanistic look at the unexpected ways in which relationships form, flourish and flounder and how we define who — and what — is “normal.”
MPAA Rating: None.
Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes.
Playing: At the Arena Cinema, Hollywood.