Diamonds of the Night

Němec's attempts at conveying pain occasionally veer into such grotesque territory that he almost appears to be mocking people who went through a harrowing fate. There isn't a single moment in Diamonds of the Night that made me believe that this actually happened. While the images are occasionally intriguing, they often seem false—like deceptions rather than snapshots of a truth that cannot be grasped any other way.

I’m truly baffled that Němec is considered an ‘enfant terrible’, as his decisions couldn’t be more safe. There is no great ugliness, and no great beauty—both would be too truthful, too committing, too definite. Instead he takes the compliant route of “pretty”, prettifying things that shouldn’t be, or he tries to sell us a one-dimensional perspective as radicalism. Much is filmed with a shaky camera, yet another attempt to avoid taking a stand.

While both his view of the world and his filmmaking style seem naive, Diamonds of the Night is far from innocent: Thoroughly shallow, it relies on cheap manipulative tactics and the hope that people will read into it more than is actually there. But I'm gonna have to pass.

Just because you make a film about the holocaust doesn’t automatically make it profound, and just because you found the most gorgeous boy in the whole Czech Republic and put him in a forest doesn't make it poetic. There needs to be more.

As in any meaningful encounter, a film should meet you halfway—both the director and the audience should invest. If that balance is off, if the viewer only gets something out of the experience if they fill the empty spaces on the screen with their own feelings, then I don’t think you’ve made a very good film.