Character-driven narrative feature Diving Normal that tells the story of a love triangle that occurs when two unlikely friends fall for the same girl. The film is an adaptation of the critically acclaimed play of the same name, and centers around the lives of Fulton and Gordon (played by Philipp Karner and Scotty Crowe, respectively, who also produced and co-wrote the adapted screenplay with playwright Ashlin Halfnight).
Fulton and Gordon are an odd pair; Fulton is an adorable, successful graphic novelist who has no problem attracting attention from the ladies, despite (and maybe slightly because of) brief moments of insecurity, and Gordon is his sweet, yet extremely socially awkward neighbor who provides Fulton with notes on his graphic novels, and on life in general.
When Fulton runs into Dana (Susie Abromeit), an ex-model and acquaintance for high school, he even turns to Gordon for dating advice. With the help of Gordon’s notes, a picnic, and a hot air balloon, Fulton is able to woo Dana with the “perfect first date,” but Dana’s troubled past, which includes a recent stint in rehab, makes it difficult for her to make long-term, meaningful connections with other people. Luckily for Fulton, Gordon knows what it’s like to feel less than “normal,” and together they are able to win her over. The only problem is that they both fall in love with her in the process.
Things eventually get complicated as they typically do in stories with love triangles, but not before the three develop camaraderie, while Fulton and Gordon also continue to grow close to Dana separately, but ultimately Diving Normal isn’t so much a story about a love triangle as it is a story about belonging.
The acting here is phenomenal all around, but Abromeit’s depiction of a young, recovering alcoholic and addict struggling with the mistakes of her past and Crowe’s portrayal of a man struggling with borderline, if not full blown, Asperger’s syndrome are specifically noteworthy as neither is an easy part to play, and both are successfully rendered as multi-layered, three-dimensional characters.
Kristjan Thor’s Diving Normal questions what it means to be normal, and ultimately lends the argument that maybe there is no such thing. We’ve all felt lost, unloved, isolated and unable to connect; this is a story about embracing those differences, regardless of how exposed or broken they make us feel, in order to finally see that we belong.