One of the benefits of working for a small movie review and news site is that we sometimes get a chance to see and review the smaller films. These are films that were not made with much money, with a small crew, and do not have a large studio backing them. The Diary of Preston Plummer is just one of those films. Director Sean Ackerman also played the role of producer and writer in bringing this story to fruition. I became really interested in seeing the film after seeing a trailer that I loved for the film.
The Diary of Preston Plummer tells the story of Preston Plummer (Trevor Morgan), a recent college graduate, who, by happenstance, meets a girl named Kate (Rumer Willis) at a party. Preston and Kate connect and, before you know it, Kate is asking Preston to drive her to her parents’ place in Florida. Considering Preston does not have much going on after graduation, he decides to take the trip. It is only after Preston is in Florida does he begin to find out that there is a dark family secret that no one in Kate’s family really wants to talk about. Her parents (Erin Dilly and Christopher Cousins) are very adamant about not discussing the family issue. Preston’s interest is piqued when he is asked to visit Kate’s ailing grandfather (Robert Loggia) who has been shunned from the family. Preston does eventually uncover the secret and it has some terrible repercussions. The title of the film comes from Preston recording letters and messages to his absent mother on a tape recorder.
The cast of the film is very small. There are only five main actors in the entire film. When you have a small cast, it is imperative that each bring their best to the film. The biggest issue I have with the film is the shaky acting in quite a few scenes. At times, the acting feels forced and unrehearsed. I felt uncomfortable during some of the scenes between Rumer Willis and Trevor Morgan. This is the first time I have seen Rumer Willis in a film, and she comes across as awkward and nervous in many of the scenes. There seems to be a disconnect between the words said and how she acts as Kate. Erin Dilly and Christopher Cousins also fall short in coming across as believable in one of the climactic scenes where it is important to feel the stress and struggle of the parents with their past decision. Some scenes can bring on a cringe from the audience. On the other hand, veteran actor Robert Loggia adds to the cast well as the strange, ailing grandfather, even though he does not have many scenes. Trevor Morgan continues to impress me in the roles he takes since seeing him in Brotherhood.
The crowning achievement of the film is the cinematography and direction. It is evident Sean Ackerman loves the setting of the Florida coast. He lingers on the sunsets and beach landscapes in a way that makes the film’s setting the sixth actor. He makes the film beautiful in a way that not every director with the same script would or could.
The musical score by Christopher Brady is also very fitting to the setting and the plot of the film. It is not obtrusive, but still noticeable enough that I can still remember how it sounds a week after seeing the film.
Visually, The Diary of Preston Plummer is all that you think it could be from the trailer. Unfortunately, the major problem is that the film falls short in the acting category. There are scenes that could have used a few more takes and more believable performances. Even with this problem, I still have to admire all that is accomplished in this small, independent film.
I give The Diary of Preston Plummer 2.5 “tape recorders” out of 5.
by Sarah Ksiazek