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Based on the life stories of the eccentric aunt and first cousin of Jackie Kennedy, starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange, GREY GARDENS tells the tender, intimate story of an eccentric mother and daughter (both named Edith Bouvier Beale aka "Big and Little Edie"). They were raised as Park Avenue débutantes but withdrew from New York society, taking shelter at their Long Island summer home, "Grey Gardens ." As their wealth and contact with the outside world dwindled, so did their grasp on reality. They were reintroduced to the world when international tabloids learned of a health department raid on their home, and Jackie swooped in to save her relatives. Based on the lives that inspired the Maysles Brothers' classic documentary.]]>
Drew Barrymore, the Grey Gardens standout, rises to the particular challenge of playing "Little Edie" Beale, whose accent, carriage, and mannerisms have developed their own camp following over the years. Barrymore's performance is a revelation: she captures the weirdness of Edie, but she knows what the documentary fans know--the reality of what Edie once had been, and what she was becoming. Barrymore's performance is delicate and strong, with a hint of sadness underneath the fading ingénue's brave face. Jessica Lange plays "Big Edie," the mother who made more concrete choices to wall herself off from the outside world. Lange is excellent, though Big Edie is a less nuanced character than her daughter, and she seems more content with her lot, perched in her teeming twin bed surrounded by mounds of cats and trash.
The filmmakers pay deep homage to the documentary, and carefully recreate the third lead character of the drama--the East Hampton, N.Y., mansion Grey Gardens itself. The making-of featurette is a must-have for fans of either film, as the filmmakers and actors talk about how they built a three-story facsimile of the home near Toronto (which also stands in for the Manhattan scenes). Also fascinating is the story of how certain beloved sets from the documentary were painstakingly re-created, including the Beales’ yellow bedroom, the entryway that played stage to the dancing aspirations of Little Edie, and the crumbling porch and yard where Edie would pose and prance, decked out in tights, shorts, a pinned-up skirt, and her signature sweater-snood, fastened with a brooch just so. "Well, Mother and I are very entertaining, that's true," says Little Edie, when the Maysles first approach her about cooperating in their documentary. And, happily, viewers of HBO's Grey Gardens could not agree more. --A.T. Hurley
Stills from Grey Gardens (click for larger image)
- Commentary by executive producers Michael Sucsy, Lucy Barzun Donnelly, and Rachael Horovitz
- Grey Gardens Then and Now: Compares the feature film with the original 1975 documentary, including interviews with Albert Maysles, Drew Barrymore, Jessica Lange, filmmaker Michael Sucsy, and others
Top Customer Reviews
Gladly, I was wrong on all accounts!!!
Jessica Lange is phenomenal, and Drew Barrymore is incredible as Little Edie!! Further, the direction, costumes, music, sets, cinematography, makeup, raccoons, and cats were all spot on. I found myself astonished throughout at what a happy, successful surprise this film was. I cannot wait to purchase the DVD with the hope of many extras (I hope). How about commentary, a house tour, etc. I've always been dubious of the term "instant classic", but I think this film will become as much of a cult classic as the originals....campy, touching, beautiful. Thanks to everyone involved.
The performances by Jessica Lang as Edith Bouvier Beal is a testament to her immense talent and a reminder of just how far she has come since she slipped from King Kong's fingers into our consciousness. This performance is one that should garner awards galore and be studied for years to come by aspiring actors. This is a masterwork by a great star.
Then there is Miss Barrymore. Born of a towering and legendary acting family she has shown us in the past just how astonishingly good she can be. But listen boys, batten down the hatches for the approaching storm that will wrench your heart from your body like a tin roof off a barn in a hurricane. As Edie Beal Drew Barrymore is a thrilling, revelatory, spectacle, a shear joy to behold and so utterly heartbreaking. This is the best work she has ever done and puts her beyond her ancestors as the greatest Barrymore in the dynasty.
And buried in the midst of these two towering performances one must not neglect the brilliant, lovely and gentle work by Jeanne Tripplehorn as Jackie Kennedy. Her work here is wonderful. Miss Tripplehorn is indeed with her work on HBO's "Big Love" and here in this film fulfilling her youthful promise as an actress and coming into her own in her middle years.
The thing of the matter is that these two wonderful actresses meld into the women in the story so convincingly that if you have seen the original documentary you will think you are seeing the real Beals. A great film, a touching and deeply moving story, a film that should be admired and treasured for the masterpiece it is.
both drew barrymore and jessica lange are dead on in their portrayals of big and little edie.
I've already watched it about five times now. :)
Let the awards season begin. lol
Now I want to watch the documentaries and read the books. Fascinating!