Admittedly, this is not one of Williams' best stories. The reason the film works so well is the acting and directing.
I had seen Bryce Dallas Howard in a few other films but they did not prepare me for this absolutely thrilling performance. This is not just the best performance of the year but it is the best performance in the past several years. She brings the character of Fisher Willow to life the way that Vivian Leigh did for Blanche DuBois. In many ways Fisher Willow is like a young version of Blanche.
Fisher is a typical Williams' heroine. She initially comes off as a selfish, self centered, Southern Belle but underneath she is much more fragile than anyone suspects. Bryce Dallas Howard is able to bring this out with such complexity and nuance that we can sympathize with a character that we should not care about so much. Even in her best moments she seems as though she could shatter at any moment.
This performance alone is enough reason to see this film.
The story follows the familiar themes covered in other Tennessee Williams stories: loneliness, loss of wealth, fall from grace, and battling interior demons. The teardrop diamond could represent the wealth and status her family once had. It is not just a $5000 jewel. It is a symbol of what her family once was and what was once the old South.
Jodie Markell does an impressive job directing. Her style is old school. She knows when to let the camera linger and when to let the scenes play out. The film does not seem rushed and it never drags. The cinematography is gorgeous with burnished orange dominating the color palette.
"The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond," may not be one of the four best movies made from a Tennessee Williams story but it is not far behind. This is mandatory viewing for any fan of Tennessee Williams.