The duty of an actor is to find a part of themselves in their character and make it relatable to the viewer. They become the conduit that helps every one of us also feel connected to the character. While there are some notable differences between actress Diana Matlak and her lead role as Natalie in the upcoming feature film Complex Living (set for release in 2019), the theme of believing in one’s self is prominent. It’s a story about taking risks because you have faith in your own destiny. While superhero capes, CGI, and pyrotechnics are not found in this production, the true inner heroism of day to day people is profound. Award-winning director Joseph Brandon worked with an impressive cast that includes Matlak, Cissy Wellman, and Jeff Rector, among others to manifest this tale that vacillates between joyous highs and heartbreaking lows. The story is anything but predictable, a facet exponentially increased by the actors.
Every generation has their way of defining relationships in the lives of young adults. Rebel Without a Cause, Reality Bites, Singles, Garden State, these films range from Oscar nominated to enduring cult classics. Whether drama, comedy, or somewhere between the two, they communicate the uniqueness of life and love for each generation and the world in which they live. The world is drastically different than it was even a few short years ago and Complex Living illustrates this disparity as well as some commonality. This comedy/drama/romance tells the story of an aspiring fashion designer named Natalie who falls in love with her new neighbor. When her long term relationship with an unsupportive boyfriend falls apart, she refocuses on her dream career. In spite of her lack of interest in love, it presents itself. What the film does so well is to illustrate both sides of a budding romance. The difficulties of life sometimes cause us to be our best or worst representative to other people. There is a quality to romance that relies on our malleability to the challenges we all face and the point when this occurs in our lives.
The story is central to Natalie and therefore rests heavily on the shoulders of Diana Matlak. While she has received major recognition for previous roles, her performance is particularly honest in Complex Living. This is due to Matlak’s skill as an actor as well as many congruent factors between her and the character. Natalie moves from Poland to LA, finding herself separated from her family and pursuing her dream as a fashion designer. Diana left her homeland of Poland (and a successful acting career there) aspiring to prove herself in Hollywood. The film’s director Joseph Brandon (of the award-winning films The Train Trip and Coincidental Romance) declares, “Working with Diana Matlak is always a pleasure. She is continually surprising in terms of the layers that she brings to a role. I’ve worked with her before and she always brings more to the table than simply what is expected. She takes her craft very seriously, which allows for an ease on set that raises everyone’s game. She is powerful!”
Cameron Place appears as Jim Durham, neighbor and unexpected suitor. His overprotective mother is played by lauded actress Cissy Wellman. As Mrs. Durham, she creates a powerful complement to Matlak. Wellman’s career includes appearances in Ally McBeal (four-time Golden Globe winner), The Waltons (two-time Golden Globe winner with fifty-seven nominations), Charlie’s Angels (7 Golden Globe nominations), The Outlaw Josey Wales (Oscar nominated) starring Clint Eastwood, and a number of iconic productions. Witnessing these two powerful female presences together communicates that roles may change through the decades but talent always endures. Diana states that she enjoyed the opportunity to work with Cissy Wellman as well as communicating this story. She remarks, “I wanted to show with my character that you can follow your dreams; you just have to believe in yourself, work hard, and never give up. Sometimes some things happen for a reason, whether you’re looking for them or not. In order to find happiness, sometimes we have to go through traumatic experiences. This movie shows that love can come anytime and anywhere; it just happens.”