Tears and Triumph: Smash Pictures’ Diary of Love

by Rich Moreland, April 2013

A young man lies comatose in a hospital bed, the victim of a car crash. A year has passed and the likelihood of his recovery is fading. Perhaps reading aloud a story of survival will conquer the dark world that imprisons his brain and his soul. Maybe he will hear. For the young woman who visits him daily, that is her desperate hope.

So goes the premise of Dairy of Love, a Smash Pictures release directed by Jim Powers and starring Presley Hart as Allie and Richie Calhoun as Noah. It’s a romantic tale of embattled love.

For porn fans, it celebrates the “couples” genre. Not gonzo, not even close. Best of all, it is superbly produced with acting that reaches beyond the norm for adult film.

From the view of this critic, Jim Powers’ work is sensational. He melds story and actor into a cohesive unit that has garnered accolades from the industry. Diary of Love received several nominations at the 2013 AVN awards this past January. Mostly recently, it was honored at the by XRCO (X Rated Critics Organization) as Best Dramatic Parody.

A Million Thoughts

When Noah and Allie first meet, he’s serious almost to a fault and she’s well-versed in flippant responses.

Allie, “a rich girl from the Bay Area,” the narrator tells us, has everything. Noah, employed at a local cement plant, struggles to make ends meet. As their relationship develops, the camera mirrors the emotional exchanges between the lovers. In an early scene, they are walking down the street, teasing and flirting. Powers’ lens is in motion with them, circling their playfulness as it whirls with seduction. The camera is in a fluid state, capturing their attempt to find their way through the stormy path they create for each other.

Later, as the summer progresses and their pairing becomes more than an acquaintance, Powers adds a humorous touch for gonzo fans. Allie and Noah share an ice cream cone (vanilla, naturally) and she ends up with ice cream all over her mouth and nose (not the eyes, of course). It’s the only “facial” in the film. Pop shots are directed at tummies in this story!

Presenting the sex as a woman likes it, Diary of Love emphasizes negotiation and communication between the lovers. When she is finally ready to get physical, Allie wants inside Noah’s brain, just as she now seeks to reach him in a sterile hospital room. What is he thinking?

“I have a million thoughts in my head and you’re acting like this is an everyday thing,” she shouts at him before they get it on. Of course it isn’t, but that’s not totally clear at this point.

Allie immediately apologizes for her petulance, telling Noah she just wants this first time “to be perfect.” How many women have sought reassurance that their self-generated fantasy of the “right moment” may actually contain flashes of male sincerity?

Later when they finally make love, Presley Hart’s sensuality splashes across the screen and heats up the set. Her scene is the hottest in the movie, but only a few degrees ahead of an earlier encounter that features Lily Labeau.

This tale has its share of bumps in the road. Allie’s mom ultimately voices her disapproval and successfully squashes her daughter’s summer fling, sending Allie east to college and eventually law school. But Noah never forgets and the quest to lure Allie back into his arms is the rest of the story. But for that, you’ll have to see the film.

Boxcover Courtesy of Smash Pictures

Boxcover Courtesy of Smash Pictures

A Drama Queen?

Diary of Love insists that the story drive the sex, not the other way round.

Laborious minutes of endless sex are thankfully abandoned in this film. The intimacy that does take place is carefully choreographed to reflect the viewer’s reality. Nothing is acrobatic, there’s no anal anywhere and no oral thrusting to gag the girls. Abundant kissing, male-on-female oral, and a bit of cuddling in the afterglow, highlight each encounter. Of interest is handholding during the penetration shots, romantic and bonding.

It is sex as couples experience it, tender without being slutty, featuring natural bodies. Included, by the way, are males hired for their acting chops, not the size of their endowment. However, there’s a downer note for fans of fully shaven girls. Only Presley Hart is smooth as silk, indicative perhaps of a trend toward the well trimmed bush, albeit for better or worse.

This film has memorable sequences.

Kimberly Kane, who plays one of Noah’s lovers, reflects a woman’s need to break into a man’s emotional vault. She reminds him that a woman can look into a man’s eyes and tell if he “sees” her. Unfortunately for Kimberly, her facial expression reveals who Noah sees.

Allie’s mother, played by Nikki Charm, confronts her daughter with the mistake she is making—taking up with a man outside her social class. Allie’s protests fail to move this mountain. “Don’t be a drama queen!” mom shouts. She is determined to prevent Allie from a disastrous life-altering choice. Indeed, practicality often trumps true love in real life.

Incidentally, Kimberly and Nikki handle dialogue better than anyone in the cast, including Presley Hart who received a best actress nomination. The film is worth a look to catch the authenticity of these veteran performers.

The film’s first sexual encounter between Fin (Logan Pierce) and Sarah (Lily LaBeau) is sensational. Lily is a stunner, as porn fans already know. But it’s the scene’s park setting that produces a clever touch. Behind Lily’s reverse cowgirl sequence is a retaining wall of logs pounded into the ground. They are of different lengths, nestled one beside the other. How appropriate for the repeated “pounding” Sarah is enjoying! Match a log with each thrust and the park becomes an animated participant in the shoot.

Speaking of directorial genius, a couple of other shots should not be missed. The emphasis on male-female sexual equality is in clear focus with an overhead view of Noah and his two playmates, war widows Kimberly Kane and Lia Lor. (Noah fought in Afghanistan and is trying to adjust to life after death. Fin is killed in action, taking a little bit of Noah with him).

They are a sexual threesome. In this shot, Noah is lying between them. The trio forms a barely perceptible triangle with their bodies, signaling that they are a comfort for each other and a hint at where this relationship might go if a sequel is developed.

Jim Powers’ artistry steps to the fore once again as the movie winds down. Pay close attention to Noah and Allie’s painful talk in the home he built for her. He is on the screen’s far left, sitting in a chair with the one next to him vacant. She is on the far right, seated alone at one end of a settee, a continuous unbroken seat. Despite the chilly emotional atmosphere blanketing the room, an expansive window bathed in sunlight is the mediator reaching out to the former lovers. The implications of this moment summarize longing, separation, and the possibility of reconciliation. Allie once again has the advantage; her love life is unbroken, she has a husband-in-waiting back east. On the other hand, Noah’s is in disrepair, like the now rehabbed house once was. He fixed that, can he fix this?

At film’s end, a masterful shot frames the story’s resolution. Allie’s luggage is tucked away in the far left of the screen and she jumps into Noah’s arms, wraps her legs around his waist, elevating her head above his. The lovers are drenched in a gleaming rain.

The victorious human will is never more clearly illustrated in love’s landscape. Rain and sun, tears and triumph, are superbly displayed as the final curtain descends.

Don’t miss this movie. There is much more to see.

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