Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds
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An intimate portrait of two of Hollywood's most fascinating personalities, Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds has become, poignantly, both a requiem and celebration of the two movie icons, who sadly and unexpectedly died one day apart in December 2016: Star Wars actress/author Carrie Fisher and her mother, Singin' in the Rain star Debbie Reynolds. Shot mainly inside the Beverly Hills compound where both Fisher and Reynolds lived (their two houses were connected by one walkway), the film captures the unique chemistry and eccentricity that bound these two generations of Hollywood royalty. Given unusual access to each woman's home and life, directors Alexis Bloom and Fisher Stevens captured the quicksilver wit and intelligence shared by both women as they orbited around each other, living separate lives but kept close by the gravitational pull of love and family.
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Top Customer Reviews
Todd's loving handling of them both is precious to watch. Had he passed first, you know Debbie and Carrie would have held each other up. But neither could live without the other.
However Bright Lights isn't mostly about music. It tells the story of the dwindling end of Carrie's and Debbie's careers, underscoring the lasting damage of the Reynolds-Fisher divorce on the family.
For insights on the Carrie-Debbie relationship I don't think you can do better: Very clever use of interviews linked to vintage film and family movies.
Carrie Fisher's struggle with mental illness and substance abuse is a central theme. Another is Debbie Reynold's comebacks after two husbands ripped her off; and her struggle for years to found a museum of motion picture art on her collection of costumes and memorabilia. (Helped by her sympathetic son Todd.)
In cinema-verite style, Bright Lights cameras catch pieces of their lives as daughter and mother, and friends and neighbors. That approach sometimes feels a bit too much like "reality tv," with out-of-focus shots, and scenes that needed editing or feel too intrusive.
It does offer a close account of how they lived, which Fisher herself (and perhaps Debbie in her nightclub act) revealed much of already in her books and screenplays.
It was sad, though very moving, to see the brave Debbie Reynolds ignore her old body's aches and pains to continue to perform. She worked to survive the debt created by exhusbands and the museum project--and because she loved performing and wouldn't willingly quit.
Watching her increasing difficulty ascending and descending stairs to a stage, an old performer's life seems to have more in common with a welder's than a painter's. I certainly came to respect the sheer labor involved in her efforts.
As Carrie adroitly says of Debbie, "Old age is awful for everyone, but she falls from a greater height." (Breathtaking vintage film footage of young Debbie Reynolds proves her physical vitality once had been thrilling.)
Carrie Fisher has always seemed tragic. Starting with many advantages, she was sidelined by a devastating mental illness and related substance abuse. But she continued to make something of her life and experience anyway. That unsinkable effort makes her seem like she was indeed her mother's daughter.