THE LOSS OF A TEARDROP DIAMOND
BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
OCTOBER 17, 2010
Tennessee Williams delivers a tale of young love between different social classes from beyond the grave. Bryce Dallas Howard plays the part of spoiled Fisher Willow (initially slated for Lindsay Lohan). Fisher is self-indulgent and strangely confident as the outsider of the upper class. To appear more desirable, Fisher approaches Jimmy (Chris Evans), the son of an alcoholic who works for the Willow family. Fisher falls in love with Jimmy, but her bravado is much more than Jimmy can handle, even as he tries to play her for her status, and when a “teardrop diamond” goes missing and Jimmy gets blamed, their new-found relationship becomes strained.
Swept under the rug since 1957, Williams’ “The Loss Of A Teardrop Diamond” comes to life. Staying true to the original screenplay, it ventures into territory that other films and directors would probably be unwilling to enter, especially with stage play conventions (phantom spotlights, minimal change of locations and sets, etc.). It is a gorgeous film, especially in the night scenes where the couple admires the levee on the Mississippi River. The film also has a heart, and the scene that stands out most is the desperate pleas of a suffering mother during the film’s party scene and Fisher’s choice of whether to commit euthanasia.
Both leads fill their parts successfully but bring nothing to inspire the viewer. Their roles appear to prove challenging for Dallas and Evans. Had the film been set in a more recent era, the duo would probably have dominated their roles. As Stanley Kowalski in Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1947), Marlon Brando sets the bar far too high for Chris Evans to ever reach but also shows the potential in Tennessee Williams’s writing. From that, I believe “The Loss Of A Teardrop Diamond” had much more potential and failed to reach it.
Nothing makes me happier than producing works from great writers, even after their posthumous. Though “The Loss Of A Teardrop Diamond” does not compare to classics like “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof” (1955), the modern display of such an unsung classic catches the eye and demands at least some respect. Most viewers will question the stage play conventions as the “party” scene drags on for most of the film, but those that invest at least a little of their faith and attention to such a historical writer in Tennessee Williams will respect the venture.
December 30, 2009
Screen Media Films
(for some sexuality and drug content)
Susan E. Morse
Bryce Dallas Howard
Brad Michael Gilbert