All one really needs to know about The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond is that Tennessee Williams, the above-the-title star, wrote the screenplay “at the height of his late-'50s heyday,” according to the film’s publicity. Williams died in 1983, meaning that he had more than 20 years to either publish or produce his screenplay and chose not to. If your curiosity has not yet been quashed, it is also worth noting that the film debuted at the 2008 Toronto Film Festival, and then drifted in cinematic limbo for a year before finding a distributor. Still interested? Then, by all means, read on…
Bryce Dallas Howard plays a poor little rich girl from Memphis named Fisher Willow, whose social life has been severely impaired thanks to her mean ol’ daddy, who long ago drew the wrath of the town by dynamiting the levee to protect his own land from flooding. But Fisher is a spirited gal who refuses to let a little scandal keep her from having a good time, so she hires a somewhat thick-headed hunk (Chris Evans) to serve as her escort at local shindigs. The audience is ostensibly asked to believe that Fisher’s principle crisis is that she is unduly constrained by the rigors of Southern society, yet she inexplicably decides to inflict similar constraint on a subordinate in order to continue to participate in the very society which is oppressing her. After being merely uninteresting for the first two acts, the film devolves into outright embarrassment in Act III, as Fisher and her doltish beau get dolled up to attend a Halloween party. During the course of the evening, Fisher loses her aunt’s precious earring, but finds a crippled spinster played by Ellen Burstyn -- although giving an actress of Burstyn’s caliber a Southern accent and a physical disability to flaunt is akin to hiring a neurosurgeon to patch up a paper cut. After swapping boorish monologues with the old woman, Fisher proceeds to guzzle some opium-enriched cough syrup, giving the filmmakers an excuse to break out the bacchanalian masks and distorted lenses, before she launches into an entirely unmotivated and disturbingly spastic piano rhapsody. Meanwhile, Williams violates a cardinal rule by allowing a character introduced in the final act to become essential to the plot, as the story collapses into a series of inane arguments and awkward attempts to diffuse conflicts that never really existed in the first place.
To be sure, there is entertainment to be had from The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond, though it comes mostly at the entertainers’ expense. When Howard wistfully declares that “Music is so much nicer from a distance” or inquires, “How could I be chilly in my leopard-skin coat?” it seems doubtful that amused snorts are the intended response, but that is what will likely be heard in the theater -- just above the more mournful sound of the earth steadily churning as Tennessee Williams methodically turns in his grave.
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- Released: 2008
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: All one really needs to know about The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond is that Tennessee Williams, the above-the-title star, wrote the screenplay “at the height of his late-'50s heyday,” according to the film’s publicity. Williams died in 1983, meaning that he… (more)