THE LOSS OF A TEARDROP DIAMOND
Release Date: December 30, 2009
Starring: Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris
Evans, Ellen Bustyn, Ann
Margret, Jessica Collins, Will
Patton, Jennifer Sipes, and
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 102 minutes
Director: Jodie Markell
Executive Producer: Ron Gilbert and Catherine
Producer: Brad Michael Gilbert
Writer: Tenessee Williams
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Set in the Roaring Twenties in Memphis, the main character is Fisher Willow (played by Bryce Dallas Howard, Ron Howard’s daughter). Fisher is a headstrong young heiress who rebels against the constraints of “proper” society. She hires the poor but handsome son of her father’s drunken caretaker, Jimmy Dobyne (Chris Evans), to escort her to the major debutante parties of the season. Though Jimmy is the grandson of a former governor, his family has fallen on hard times.
While Jimmy escorts Fisher, both are dressed to the nines, with Fisher wearing her aunt’s $10,000 teardrop diamonds. After a couple parties, Fisher decides she’s falling in love with Jimmy, but Jimmy is not ready to accept this turn of events. Then, at a Halloween party held by her friend, Julie, Fisher loses one of her expensive earrings. When she asks Jimmy if the earring accidentally fell into his pocket, Jimmy considers it a grave insult suggesting that he stole the earring. Jimmy demands to be searched by the older chaperones at the party, who find nothing.
The tension between Fisher and Jimmy at the party mounts when Jimmy shows interest in an old flame who works in a local drugstore. Meanwhile, Julie’s stroke-impaired elderly grandmother, Addie, confined to a bed upstairs, asks Fisher to help her commit suicide with a bottle of pills Addie cannot reach.
Tennessee Williams wrote about people on the outskirts of society or people with problems or quirks that could turn them into an outsider. Also, madness is a key theme that hovers within his work. Both things are the case with this movie. The male lead visits his mother in a mental asylum, and, later, Fisher reveals she had a nervous breakdown in Europe and had to “go away” to recover. Finally, Fisher’s rebellious attitudes make her an oddity among the young rich crowd in Memphis.
Sadly, the story and characters in THE LOSS OF A TEARDROP DIAMOND are not as captivating or dramatically inspiring as the other, more famous works by Williams. The actors do a good job, however, and the set designs, costumes, and photography are excellent, so the movie eventually holds one’s interest.
Regrettably, the euthanasia subplot is not only morally heinous; it also adds nothing to the rest of the story. Though the hero talks his old flame out of stealing Fisher’s diamond earring, the story’s focus is not a moral one overall. Instead, characters mostly behave out of personal gain and calculation, in an emotional way, without a rational, biblical foundation.
Sadly, the story and characters in THE LOSS OF A TEARDROP DIAMOND are not as captivating as the more famous works by Williams. The actors do a good job, however, and the set designs, costumes, and photography are excellent. A euthanasia subplot is not only morally heinous, and it adds nothing to the rest of the story. Despite some other, more moral elements, the story’s focus is not moral overall. Instead, characters mostly behave out of personal gain and calculation, in an emotional way.