Sunday, March 4, 2012
The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond
Great expectations; great disappointment.
Released in 2009, The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond wasn't screened where I live, and there was a long wait for the DVD.
Now I wonder: Did I sabotage fair assessment with my long and eager anticipation? Were my expectations realistic? Is it possible to put Tennessee Williams' work on the screen authentically today, given contemporary audience and financing challenges?
Teardrop Director Jodie Markell says she developed "an affinity" for Tennessee Williams as a teenager and read everything of his ever published. Later, a New York acting school teacher, aware of her interest, introduced her to an unproduced collection of Williams' screenplays, among them The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond. She identified with unconventional Fisher Willow, acquired rights, and shot the film in Louisiana in twenty-eight days. Written in 1957, the story is set in 1923 Memphis.
Ms. Markell and I appear to value different aspects of Williams' work; she (from her own words) relates to his empathy for society's misfits; I to Williams' cogent exposure of society's hypocrisy, injustice, willful ignorance and cruelty. While the latter themes are in the film, they're peripheral, muted and vastly subordinate to Fisher Willow and her personal emotional journey.
Director Markell also says she wanted to faithfully embody and convey Williams' words and story, yet the film lacks his historic essence, his fearless intent and remarkable ability to make us see and powerfully feel everyday kindness and ugliness.
Paraphrasing a favourite line from Madam X,
This film is not the substance of Tennessee Williams, only the shape and shadow.
The plot is available at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Loss_of_a_Teardrop_Diamond