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Film Critics: Today, December 13, winners from ChicagoFCA. Nominations from HoustonFCS, PhoenixCC. PhoenixFCS.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Grey Gardens


It took me a few days to decide if I was going to write about this movie or not. Why? Because I found the story very disturbing and incredibly hard to watch. No, I haven’t watch the documentary of the same name that this movie faithfully recreates and definitively I’m not interested in watching after the mostly unpleasant story the film tells.

The made for TV film tells about the life stories of the eccentric aunt and first cousin of Jackie Onassis, both named Edith and known as Big Edie and Little Edie, that went from riches to the most unbelievable living conditions, extreme poverty and state-of-mind in an East Hampton mansion called Grey Gardens.

As I do remember some of the news about these women I was looking forward to watch the movie, but definitively I was not prepared for the very unsettling and disturbing story about their relationship. Yes, what really touched me were the mother and daughter story; as the manipulation, needy states, and co-dependency it was simply put: too much for me.

But I do recognize that it’s an excellent production that does not look or feel like a made for TV movie at all and has outstanding performances by Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore. Their performances are so good -especially when they start the downfall- that I absolutely believed everything and the film became disturbing.

After reading about the movie there is one quite repeated opinion that I have to share with you all. The story in general is quite unorthodox, but the real (yes, I saw some clips with the real woman in the documentary) and actresses performances are absolutely an “acquired taste”. They are like many dishes that are not until you taste them several times you will not like them. So, I would not be surprised if many of you readers after watching once, will not like the performances, especially Drew Barrymore performance as she really does a weird accent, speaks with strange and affected words and has a quite unusual look. But she is more than faithfully recreating the real woman and was not until I saw the documentary clips that I learnt it.

I also learned that the documentary and the women became gay icons. This is something I can easily understand as both women in the riches times are portrayed so “gay” (in all the senses the word has) and truly become so eccentric that especially Little Eddie made me think that I was watching a drag queen mainly due to her behavior.

So, I believe that only if you have seen the documentary and/or are really familiar with the Bouvier Beale story you could enjoy the performances and consequently the movie, otherwise you could have a hard time watching this movie.

It is clear that I had a hard time watching this movie and you probably conclude that I will not recommend it. But, it is such a good production that I will recommend it, especially to the women that read the blog, as the mother-daughter relationship portrayed in the film is one that I believe many of us have to see even if is only to realize how lucky we are to not have had this type of relationship with our mother, especially when you think that you had a difficult relationship with your own mother.

Sigh.

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