Reviewed for FilmFactual.com & BigAppleReviews.net, linked from Rotten Tomatoes by Harvey Karten
Director: Jason Kohn
Cast: Dusan Simic, Martin Rapaport, Aja Raden, Tehmasp Printer, Stephen Lussier, John Janik, Melvyn Thomas, Chandu Sheta
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 11/10/22
“Diamond are Forever” may be the and subject of a 1971 James Bond movie, but documentary director Jason Kohn begs to disagree with the title. The idea of his “Nothing Lasts Forever” is that not even the precious stone that American women want from their boyfriends to show commitment could disappear, a status symbol shredded to dusk like the Rolex watches sold in Chinatown for fifty bucks or that Gucci knockoff that only an expert can challenge.
Taking us to New York diamond district where the gems are sold, to Botswana where they are mined, Kohn evokes interviews from some of the industry leaders, the most colorful of whom is Martin Rapaport who is at the helm of the pricing organ called the Rapaport Group, an international network of companies providing added-value services that support the development of fair, transparent, efficient, and competitive diamond and jewelry markets. He warns scores of industry colleagues that the prices of diamond are going downhill, while several other guests raise concerns that not only are synthetics threatening to destroy the industry by undercutting the real thing by ninety percent, but that in a more insidious way, synthetics are mixed in with naturals to make their presence even more difficult to detect.
You can call the movie yet another critique of capitalism, a system of economics that knows how to use sophisticated marketing. Marketing, not rarity, is what makes the gems command top dollars, specifically by telling the people that if you get a genuine diamond ring for your engagement, you have definitive proof that your lover is into you, that he cherishes you. Conversely if you receive a synthetic and the guy lies about it, consider the betrothal kaput. (Not raised in the film is that many semi-precious stones like rubies and emeralds are not only more economical but are prettier.)
New York scores as a location not only for its famed 47th Street, which is to diamonds what Chinatown is to restaurants but for Roosevelt Island where we hear a gemologist tell of ways that might protect the real thing from its synthetic cousin—both of which are produced in China and India.
As though the subject were not interesting enough, Kohn directs it like a thriller, employing music that is among the most intrusive that I have ever witnessed short of what dominates superhero movies. At least when Rapaport is talking, Kohn respects the man enough to allow him to deliver his spiels without trying to cover the dialogue as though we have a concert blaring interference from another channel.
The film is available to Showtime subscribers.
87 minutes. © 2022 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
Story – B
Acting – B+
Technical – C (music)
Overall – B