Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Grey Gardens (1976)

Landmark documentary character study of "Big Edie" and "Little Edie" Bouvier Beale, living alone in squalor in their decaying East Hampton estate. The two highly-eccentric women (the aunt and cousin, respectively, to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis) are certainly compelling subjects for a documentary, and the filmmakers do a fine job at exploring their uniquely co-dependent relationship with one another. As "Little Edie" craves independence from her mother and escape from the oppressive isolation of their home, her affection for her mother is also quite apparent, and there is something quite tragic about this woman, so full of life and energy, whose dreams and ambitions never materialized. The Verite approach is perhaps undermined a bit by the subjects' interaction with the filmmakers (who appear on-screen a few times and whose presence is acknowledged throughout), but still the Maysles have an undeniable talent for getting their subjects to open up on film and to capture a great deal of the essence of their personalities.

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