May 16, 2024

wild diamond, film, cannes, screening room, hollywood authentic, greg williams


Debut writer-director Agathe Riedinger’s sharply observed and slyly feminist drama is a Cinderella story for the influencer generation – a tale of good girls and dreams dressed up in boob jobs, stripper heels and TikTok dances. It focuses on 19 year-old Liane (Malou Khebizi, luminous) from Frejus who is manifesting being ‘the French Kim Kardashian’ via an audition for a scripted reality show that could boost her from her hard-scrabble existence living with a callous mother and bankrolling her club trips and cosmetic surgery with shoplifting. A self-assured hot mess who can handle the lascivious advances of passing men and sprint miles in her vertiginous diamante heels, Liane is aware that her self image and reality do not marry up. Having treated herself to breast enlargements, her carefully curated look of hair-extensions, heavy brows, glossy lips and provocative clothing put her on the short list for joining a dating reality show as well as being slut-shamed on public transport. But though she seems as hard as a diamond, this vulnerable teen has been in foster care, regularly prays, is a virgin and has high self-worth. 

It’s this dichotomy that fascinates Riedinger as her lens lingers on Liane’s body, her unwavering takes on the emotions fluttering across her lead’s face as Liane attends a clinical audition (and is made to strip to her underwear while being asked questions about standing up for herself), flirts with a local boy (who inevitably and disappointingly asks to see her breasts) and, in a seeming act of dangerous self-sabotage, crashes a wealthy party and offers to dance for a group of older men who literally stroke their thighs while watching her. As viewers we constantly worry for her as we watch her negotiate a world that is cruel and patriarchal, constantly waiting for the other (high heeled) shoe to drop. 

That Riedinger keeps us guessing as to whether Liane will transform into an insta princess is one of the intrigues of the film, but so is Khebizi, a first-time screen actor who inhabits the role so thoroughly and messily it’s impossible to not want the best for her. It’s also an empowering experience that feels like a fresh take on the madonna/whore complex. As Liane says defiantly; “if girls want to wear mini skirts and twerk in clubs they don’t deserve your scorn.” This one certainly doesn’t.

An impressive debut from both director and star – Wild Diamond marks two fledgling careers worth watching