Sunday, January 3, 2010

LOSS OF A TEARDROP DIAMOND (2009)


Written by Tennessee Williams


Directed by Jodie Markell


Where & When: Laemmle Sunset 5, West Hollywood, CA. January 3, 2010 1:40PM


Bryce Dallas Howard plays Fisher Willow, a recently discovered character in "Loss of a Teardrop Diamond" which is an unproduced original screenplay by Tennessee Williams, the acclaimed writer of such classics as "A Streetcar Named Desire", "The Glass Menagerie" and "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof".

Fisher is a young heiress who likes to think of herself as a modern woman of the 1920's. She's spoiled, drinks way too much, doesn't have much regard for other people's feelings and suffers no fools. Despite this tough exterior, inside lies a girl who is very sensitive and fragile.

Fisher is social outcast because of the unscrupulous actions of her father but she is completely unfazed because she knows that because of who she is, she will be invited to many of the parties. She decides she needs a proper suitor to escort her to the upcoming parties instead of friends of her Aunt Cornelia (Ann-Margaret). She selects Jimmy Dobyne (Chris Evans), who works as a farmhand on her father's plantation. The problem is that Jimmy is poor, his father is an alcoholic and his mother has been committed to an asylum. None of this concerns Fisher but she knows it would be a problem for her Aunt Cornelia, who is raising her and controls her fortune. So she buys Jimmy a proper wardrobe and passes him off to her Aunt as the grandson of the former governor.

Jimmy reluctantly agrees to go along with Fisher's plan, mainly because she is his boss's daughter but also because he is a little intrigued by her and her outrageous behaviour.

Fisher prepares to attend the party of an old friend, Julie (Mamie Gummer, Meryl Streep's daughter) and she begs Aunt Cornelia to allow her to wear her priceless diamond earrings. Cornelia is concerned because she knows how careless Fisher is but ultimately allows her to wear them.

On the way to the party, Fisher has Jimmy pull over the car, so they can talk. She realizes that she has feelings for him and she hoped that he could have them for her. She is disappointed and hurt when he pulls away from her when she tries to move in to kiss him.

When they arrive at Julie's party, Fisher is horrified to discover that she has lost one of the earrings. They search around but cannot find it. Perhaps seeking some sort of revenge on Jimmy, she accuses him of stealing the earring in front of the guests. Jimmy is highly insulted and demands to be strip searched by the house staff. Fisher tries to backtrack her accusation but it is too late. Jimmy spends the evening avoiding Fisher and cozying up to Vinnie, (Jessica Collins) a girl he was familiar with in the past.

During the party, Fisher is summoned over to the room of Miss Addie (Ellen Burstyn) because she wants to have a private conversation with her. Miss Addie is an invalid and bed ridden after suffering a series of strokes. She is in agony because her body has failed her and she wants Fisher to assist her in ending her misery. Miss Addie sees in her that she is the only person who could understand and would be willing to help her.

Will Fisher be able to repair the damage she has done to her relationship with Jimmy, will she actually help Miss Addie and what happened to that damn earring?

It was wonderful to hear his use of words and his brilliant dialogue (especially in this day and age) but the problem is that this screenplay doesn't feel completed which in turn also makes this film feel unfinished since Ms Markell insisted on filming only from the actual screenplay and not making any significant changes. This screenplay was written during the height of Mr. Williams's career so it's not surprising that the themes of alcoholism, mental instability and depression are in this story but have been used to greater effect in some of his other writings. It is clearly a work in progress which was abandoned for whatever reason and I'm sure is why it was never produced in Mr. Williams's lifetime. To be fair, I don't know if any changes would have even been allowed by the estate but it just feels like a complete disservice to the memory of Mr Williams for this to be have been made this way.

These characters appear to be just mere sketches of ideas that with a little more work could have been fully realized. Miss Howard does very well in shaping her character and she has enough to fill in the blanks which cannot be said for Mr. Evans's Jimmy.

"The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond" is watchable but will certainly not be remembered as one of Tennesse Williams's great lost works.