Bryce Dallas Howard Oscar Potential? Indie Distributor Picks Up ‘Teardrop’

Bryce Dallas Howard in The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond

Photo: Paladin

I just received a press release from the new independent film company Paladin, announcing they have picked up and will release The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Evans, Ellen Burstyn, Oscar nominee Ann-Margret, Meryl Streep’s daughter Mamie Gummer and Will Patton. The drama is based on a heretofore unproduced original screenplay by legendary writer Tennessee Williams and directed by Jodie Markell, in her feature debut.

In one of the few reviews of the film coming out of the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival, Joe Leydon at Variety offered up mixed feelings with the following intro:

The fragrant aroma of magnolias is undercut by the distinct smell of mothballs throughout “The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond,” an admirably earnest but curiously flat attempt to film a long-unproduced scenario by Tennessee Williams. Although Williams penned the original script specifically for the screen decades ago, the final product comes across as ploddingly stagebound under the sympathetic but literal-minded direction of actress-turned-helmer Jodie Markell. Resembling nothing so much as a lesser “American Playhouse” telepic of the mid-1980s, the indie drama likely will be consigned to pubcast and cable venues.

Obviously Joe is wrong on one account, the film has found distribution and won’t be resigned to television alone, but as for my question in the headline regarding Dallas Howard’s Oscar potential, it doesn’t seem he would see much having said, “Howard tries too hard.” He adds additional thoughts on the rest of the cast saying, “Evans underplays too much. Ellen Burstyn has a few affecting moments as an aged Southern belle incapacitated by stroke, who sees in Fisher a kindred spirit and, possibly, a co-conspirator. But Ann-Margret is wasted in the insubstantial role of Fisher’s disapproving grand-aunt.”

In a relatively more upbeat review, but not altogether positive, David D’Arcy’s review at Screen Daily calls the film “respectable” and says Howard “probes the vulnerability that lies beneath her big words gestures,” but the “Delta accent is more of a challenge for [her].” However, he agrees on Evans’ performance calling him “oddly stiff.”

Those are the only two reviews for the film I could find online. They don’t paint all that pretty of a picture, but I am not ready to count the film out just yet, although the chances of Howard achieving Oscar nominee status for this one seem slim.

Lindsay Lohan was originally set to play the role of Fisher Willow, the disliked 1920s Memphis debutante, before Howard stepped in following Lohan’s, shall we say, troubles. Fisher is the daughter of a plantation owner with a distaste for narrow-minded people and a penchant for shocking and insulting those around her. She ultimately falls in love with Jimmy (Evans), the down-and-out son of an alcoholic father and an insane mother who works at a store on her family’s plantation. She tries to pass him off as an upper-class suitor to appease the spinster aunt (Ann-Margret) who controls her family’s fortune, but when she loses a diamond, it places their tenuous relationship in further jeopardy.

Paladin will also release Handsome Harry in early 2010 starring Jamey Sheridan, Steve Buscemi, Aidan Quinn, John Savage, and Campbell Scott. And in November 2009 they will release the comedy Splinterheards starring Thomas Middleditch, Rachael Taylor, Lea Thompson, and Christopher McDonald, which premiered earlier this year at SXSW.

The first film on the indie distributor’s plate is Disgrace set for release in New York on September 18 and starring John Malkovich.


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