It’s college graduation day, and Preston (Trevor Morgan) is alone in a science lab, drinking liquor out of a beaker. Opting to save money on the graduation regalia, Preston decides to wallow in his own company until, later that evening, he finds himself coming to the impromptu rescue of another graduating student, Kate (Rumer Willis), at a graduation party. They spark a quick friendship and, that evening, Kate asks Preston if he will drive her to her family home in Florida. Turns out her family owns an island, and a hotel, and she’ll pay for the trip, so all Preston has to do is get her there, and everything is on the house.
Hesitant at first, Preston agrees and the two make the trek to Florida, where Preston is surprised by a request by Kate’s grandfather to meet. Preston meets the elderly and sick John (Robert Loggia), who professes to owning more land than anyone in the area, but also admits that, since he never had plans to develop or sell to developers, his land ownership has resulted in a rather destitute life. He then warns Preston that the family will tell lies about him, and the fire to solve a certain mystery regarding Kate’s family is stoked in Preston’s head.
For the most part, Preston and Kate continue their courtship, but the fact that Kate’s parents, Emily (Erin Dilly) and Walter (Christopher Cousins), are thoroughly nonplussed about Preston meeting John only makes Preston dig deeper into the family’s dysfunction. Eventually it becomes a question of finding out the truth, and jeopardizing his relationship with Kate, or letting sleeping dogs lie.
I’ll admit that The Diary of Preston Plummer threw me from the beginning, as the suggestion by Kate that Preston drive her to Florida had me expecting a typical indie road drama. Instead, the road trip is completely leaped for the dysfunctional family mystery and relationship drama between Kate and Preston; which, frankly, is a more interesting story anyway.
And while you might imagine how the mystery plays out, once the details start getting revealed, it suddenly becomes a much heavier endeavor than initially expected too. So, let’s just say that the film defied my expectations at every turn.
Trevor Morgan and Rumer Willis are engaging leads with a natural onscreen chemistry that helps you believe that they’d be intrigued with each other, if not necessarily head-over-heels in love with each other; honestly, the dry and almost stoic nature of Preston made it hard for me to buy that he’d be head-over-heels in love with anybody. It works, though, because Morgan and Willis make it work.
Overall, I found The Diary of Preston Plummer to be a pretty good film, if not a spectacular one. The story is engaging enough, the acting solid and the setting lends itself to some gorgeous imagery. I may not have connected with it as thoroughly as I would’ve liked, but that may be due to the at-arm’s-length nature of some of the characters, and as long as they relate properly to each other within the structure and tone of the narrative, it nonetheless works.
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