(Written by Allison Brown)
Nothing Lasts Forever is conclusively tiresome, bizarre, and comedic all at once. Director Jason Kohn has a clear vendetta against the diamond industry, as well as De Beers in particular, and is surely trying to bring it all down in this documentary. After ten years of working on it, the timing of Nothing Lasts Forever’s premiere at Berlinale on February 11 and screening at SXSW is certainly convenient for an industry reset. Multiple reputable sources report that De Beers Group executive vice president for brands and consumer markets, Stephen Lussier, who is prominently featured in this film, will be retiring mere weeks from now on April 1st.
Featured subject and jewelry designer, Aja Raden, is at the heart of Kohn’s film with a snarky takedown of every marketing myth ever created about diamonds. Raden seems to offer commentary with reckless abandon for the repercussions on her career and industry reputation. Unsurprisingly, she is the only female interviewed, as this is outwardly a male dominated industry. In one line, she formulates perhaps the best summary for the entire film: “they [De Beers and the powers that be controlling the diamond industry] created an illusion so spectacular it turned into truth.”
Dusan Simic, a brainy gemologist, seems to be a victim of the shallowness of the diamond business. He tries to find his niche at all ends, creating synthetic diamonds in a lab, circling back to create technology to differentiate lab-grown from genuine, submitting a patent for more overt voluntary identification of manmade gems, and eventually landing on attempting to create a real diamond in his lab. Somewhere in between, his efforts fully collapse as he ends up as an Uber driver. It is quite tragic to watch.
Nothing Lasts Forever proves that the core of this luxury industry is a group of biased rich old white men who care about nothing but profit. Martin Rapaport is the epitome of this despicable and obnoxious faction, giving a nearly political elitist speech of why synthetic diamonds are “boogeyman under the bed” at a conference to an audience of equally money-hungry people. Everything that comes out of Rapaport’s mouth is absolute bullshit to protect his financial interests.
Kohn’s style is at times extreme with his use of sarcastic metaphors like the aforementioned. One in particular felt so out of place that I literally had to scrub back and confirm that I actually saw it. While Stephen Lussier discusses all the good De Beers has done for Botswana with swelling uplifting music in the background, the documentary cuts to footage of a lion graphically urinating and later doing other strange morbid things I find difficult to describe.
I am not sure if I fully enjoyed watching Nothing Lasts Forever, though I think I support the message. All I know is that if I hear the word synthetic one more time, I will spontaneously combust.
Nothing Lasts Forever screened at the 2022 SXSW Film Festival, and arrives at Showtime later this year.