The Tennessee Williams archive is supposedly filled with uncatalogued manuscripts and revisions and rethinkings and retitlings of the same. Actress-turned-writer Jodie Markell makes a serviceable exercise in exhumation of the words of The Bird in “The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond,” written a half-century ago, and Bryce Dallas Howard, playing a rich young flapper in 1923 Memphis, makes the most of her large, blue, feline eyes amid the humidity. Still, she seems too contemporary, too strong, to embody a Williams belle named “Fisher Willow.” (It’s reported Lindsay Lohan had been set for the role originally; that would have been an entirely different kettle of melodrama.) With an inadequate Chris Evans as the requisite young hunk-perhaps-brute Fisher hopes to usher into society for the season as her escort, Mamie Gummer, Ann-Margret and Jessica Collins. For what it’s worth, Will Patton was born to play alcoholic fathers, but a twist and a splash from his directors are required. Ellen Burstyn’s peroration as an opium addict who wishes to die is ripe, but hardly in the league of her role in “Requiem for a Dream.” The mind wanders, drifting to daydreams of the recent New York production of “A Streetcar Named Desire,” starring Cate Blanchett under the direction of Liv Ullmann. 102m. (Ray Pride)
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published later this year.