Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Queen of Versailles

October 10 and 11 at 6:30pm

This doc started out as a look at the couple building the biggest house in America but took a left turn along with the Siegles when they got low-blowed by that economic fiasco that's been in the news lately. There are plenty of laughs at the expense of the superciliously enhanced, sometimes aloof trophy wife and her aged, moneyed monomaniacal husband, but there's also no lack of humanity or gravitas in this portrait. You get the feeling that director Lauren Greenfield, like the viewer, had a somewhat settled idea of who these people were when filming began, and indeed Greenfield's subjects don't do themselves any favours to dampen the cartoon versions of themselves. But even if the circumstances of their marriage is unconventional, and their wealth a tad preposterous, the strife the Siegles face and the questions they're forced to ask themselves are essentially our own. In their review the New York Times put it best: "If this film is a portrait, it is also a mirror." 

Greenfield is a dandy photographer to boot, so it's no wonder the look of this doc rises to elegant eye candy from time to time. Her website's definitely worth a look, and, if you've got the time, she has a searchable database of her work.

And for a bit of extra viewing pleasure, it doesn't hurt to know that David Siegle tried and may still be trying to sue Greenfield for defamation of character. This suit doesn't seem to have legs, but we always wonder what subjects think of how they appear in these docs.

- Andrew

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