Love & Diane

Addiction, disfunction, and collision in Brooklyn.

An important work of both journalism and activism, this harrowing documentary follows an African American family in Brooklyn through its battles with poverty, unemployment, disease, drug addiction, and the alternately inattentive and controlling influence of the welfare establishment. First-time director Jennifer Dworkin crafts an intimate portrait of the two principal figures: Diane Hazzard, a recovering crack addict who was separated from her six children by a judge many years before; and Diane’s adult daughter Love, who is HIV-positive.

Dworkin’s approach to understanding Diane and Love remains admirably unsentimental and far more nuanced than that of the professional advocates in charge of shaping their lives. Watching the collision of personal and political forces that cause Love’s young boy to be taken from her — to mention just one of many agonizing developments — makes the viewer desperate to redirect the course of events. Which, of course, is entirely the point.