By Lisa Schwarzbaum
December 30, 2009 at 05:00 AM EST

Perhaps playwright Tennessee Williams’ unproduced 1980 screenplay was unproduced — until now — for a reason. In The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond, Bryce Dallas Howard plays an unpleasantly capricious heiress in class-conscious 1920s Memphis who hires a poor local (Chris Evans, a cipher) to escort her to parties. Of course, being a Williams man, the fellow has an alcoholic father and an insane mother. Howard looks peachy, and actor-turned-director Jodie Markell sweats the details — moonlight, honeyed accents — but the brittle script resists restoration. C

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