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Customer Review

106 of 112 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How do you sum up the Siegels?, August 26, 2012
This review is from: The Queen of Versailles (DVD)
Lauren Greenfield's "The Queen of Versailles" is funny, sad, appalling and touching all at once. It can be taken as a tale of wretched excess, of the implosion of the American Dream. or as proof that the rich (at least the nouveaux riches) are perhaps not so different from you and me.

"The Queen of Versailles" is a documentary about David and Jacqueline Siegel, Florida billionaires who made a mint in the time-share boom of the early 2000s, only to go bust when the subprime mortgage bubble burst. The symbol of their rags-to-riches-to-rags story is their unfinished 90,000-square-foot house, named and modeled after Versailles, which they are forced to put on the market. The early portion of the film depicts the Siegels' life of childish self-congratulation in their current 26,000-sq.-ft. mansion, replete with gilt thrones, shoe closets the size of airplane hangars, and portraits of themselves in royal robes. The later footage shows their lives falling into chaos. David becomes increasingly grumpy and withdrawn; Jackie continues her shopping sprees (only at discount stores rather than Neiman-Marcus), and finds it impossible to cope with her eight unruly children and pack of un-housebroken American Eskimo dogs with a severely depleted household staff. And all the while Versailles sits gathering spiderwebs, while the bank schemes to put it into foreclosure.

More than one critic has pointed out the irony of the Siegels suffering the same fate, albeit on a larger scale, as their time-share clients. Yet as Greenfield portrays them--in remarkably unguarded scenes culled from more than 200 hours of film--the Siegels aren't unlikable. To be sure, they have character flaws magnified first by their wealth, then the loss of their wealth. But David Siegel is no worse than most other guys obsessed with their businesses, and Jackie obviously has a heart at least as big as her braless breasts. David and Jackie are by no means stupid or unfeeling people; they are human like us. (David, 74 when filming begins, looks maybe 60; two years later, he's 76 and looks every year of it.)

There is much here that is poignant, particularly in sequences involving the Siegels' longtime nanny and Jackie's old high school friend. If we fell into money, we might be more tasteful and less wasteful than the Siegels in spending it. But though we might chuckle at specific things they do, we can't say we would always be wiser than they were.
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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 22, 2012 7:49:44 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 22, 2012 7:51:03 PM PST
D. L. Miller says:
I disagree. They are kind of unlikeable. I had to find reasons to like them (they don't seem evil and she's not that bad, she tries) but they willfully made themselves THIS shallow, and this shallow is very, very shallow. The wife was an engineer when she was younger and she made herself this kind of airhead. The husband doesn't seem to love anyone in the family, not just her. The worst part of it is that this is going to look far, far worse to the rest of the world than it ever will to us.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2012 10:45:08 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 27, 2012 10:46:07 AM PST
Frankly, after David Siegel's latest directive to his employees--telling them their continued employment was contingent on an election victory for Mitt Romney--I have revised my opinion regarding the Siegels' likability. We'll see if Siegel is gutsy (or nasty) enough to carry out his threat.

Posted on Dec 15, 2012 9:15:21 PM PST
They are all completely unlikeable.

Posted on Dec 21, 2012 3:20:03 PM PST
Thank you for the review.

It was a good film regardless of how well people liked them personally. As you say, they are human. Everyone probably knows characters like these in their own neighborhood, just on a smaller scale.

I found it especially funny when his wife was enjoying him being humbled.

One of my favorite quotes from reading reviews of this has been: "Just as youth is wasted on the young, money is wasted on the rich."

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2013 7:48:30 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 22, 2013 7:50:37 AM PST
ADDDad says:
I could not agree more. These folks do make it seem that "money is wasted on the rich". And they sure do waste it. If there were a tax on poor taste, they'd be broke.

The film was remarkable and it's hard to imagine the director getting more lucky in the moment.

It was fascinating that you could find both of them completely repugnant people (him way more than her) but sympathize with them at the same time. David Siegel is a deeply loathesome man, but you can still feel his increasing anguish even as you see his self-absorption and self-delusion. His wife is more mysterious--it's almost like she's been held hostage by money, not for it. She was an engineer with a good job--no way was she a slouch intellectually--but she sure did become one by being surrounded by wealth and by him. The shopping trips were just scary. The animal feces around the mansion disgusting. Pure squalor amidst such opulence. Fascinating. I'm sure they are not happy with the portrait, but it seemed way more than fair.

Posted on Jan 29, 2013 5:26:13 PM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Feb 20, 2014 6:51:50 AM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 17, 2013 4:19:54 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 17, 2013 4:23:55 PM PST
Personal insults like this are uncalled for, Mr. Mangine, as is the "review" you wrote advocating capital punishment for anyone who would carelessly allow a pet lizard or fish to die. I suppose meat-eaters also deserve the death penalty? Please take a deep breath before you write.

Posted on May 21, 2013 5:38:44 PM PDT
Tropigal says:
Just watched the DVD and I have to say it was interesting to watch this family of excess and poor taste. Truly, money doesn't equate to good taste or class. And for David Siegel to actually say that G. Bush was elected because of him, ugh, he just HAD to look important. There is absolutely NO discipline in that home as the kids play ball indoors, trash and dog poop is left on the floor, fish and reptiles are left in disgusting filth to die! Clearly they have not taught the kids responsibility. Shameful! And NOW they tell their kids they may have to consider going to college (because daddy won't be able to support them for the rest of their lives). Unbelievable. I felt bad for the nanny's who work so hard to send money to support their entire family back in the Philippines.

Posted on Jun 8, 2015 1:38:47 AM PDT
C. Badders says:
I found Jackie very likable and David was likable when he wasn't being grumpy. And in all fairness the only "shopping spree" depicted post bubble burst was the trip to walmart to buy Christmas presents for the kids. Were they supposed to skip Christmas? And the children didn't seem "unruly" they seemed like normal kids.
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