The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond (review)

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There’s retro, and then there’s better left safely in the past. Or perhaps it’s just that the long forgotten and previously unproduced Tennessee Williams play this disjointed and ultimately histrionic drama is based on demanded a more subtle, more nuanced, more historically attentive approach. Bryce Dallas Howard (Terminator Salvation) is assured enough as a 1920s heiress trying to live down her landowner father’s terrible reputation amidst the catty rich folk of her Mississippi-and-Memphis society, but actress turned firsttime filmmaker Jodie Markell is at a loss as to how to properly contextualize her life. It seems like a deliberate joke, for instance, when Howard’s wannabe bohemian latches onto her father’s farmhand (the always appealing Chris Evans: Push) as an appropriate escort to the debutante parties she’s obligated to attend — it sounds like she’s thumbing her nose at the snobs she’s forced to contend with by dragging a handsome but lowly lad along on her arm. Then it transpires that he really is the grandson of a former governor… but by the time we realize what’s going on, the ragged, jagged plot — or what passes for it — about the missing earring of the title has spun so preposterously out of all sense that we fail to understand most of what anyone onscreen is doing, or why. Stagey and awkward, this is an embarrassment of a film, despite how well the attractive, perfectly competent cast — which also features Ellen Burstyn (W.) and Mamie Gummer (Taking Woodstock) — comport themselves.

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