Director: Michael Sucsy
Writers: Michael Sucsy (teleplay), Patricia Rozema (teleplay)
Stars: Drew Barrymore, Jessica Lange and Jeanne Tripplehorn
Freedom in the prison of memories
“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
― Oscar Wilde
― Oscar Wilde
Based on the life stories of the eccentric aunt and first cousin of Jackie Onassis (both named Edith Bouvier Beale aka "Big and Little Edie") raised as Park Avenue débutantes but who 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.
Had "Grey Gardens" been cinematic release instead of HBO movie, the history of the awards season in 2010 would be so much different.. This is a very unique, character driven film with two fabulous performances - Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore, both in career best turns. The story alone is fascinating - two women, mother and daughter, relatives of Jaqueline Bouvier, refusing to leave decaying estate, living among the filth and stray animals. That story actually happened - in 1975 a documentary was made about the Beales and it was even screened in Cannes.
Things took turn for the worse when Edith is left alone in the house and little Eddie goes on for search of andventure to New York. Clashing with real world and its cruelty, causes the prompt return of Eddie to Grey Gardens - the place that will become both her prison and her sanctuary. Eddie would remain there, alone with her mother for many years after that, when the place keeps rotting, animals keep going to bathroom all around, the electricity and heat are cut off and the gardens start behaving like both women - doing whatever they want, accepting their nature. You probably think that it's sad - but Edith and Eddie never worried, they always found a way - they had each other, their sharp minds and they didn't care what the others were thinking. They were very friendly towards everyone - the photographer who hid in the bushes to take pictures of the rotting mansion, the men who were doing documentary and later on in life - Eddie would correspond with her fans, up until she died, at the age of 85.
Drew Barrymore's performance as little Eddie is astonishing - she plays such a bizarre character, but you fall in love with her - you feel for her when bad things happen and it's so uplifting to see that she never loses her spirit and joyful disposition. Jessica Lange is extremely charismatic as her mother, a little bit crazy, a little controlling and ultimately - filled with love for her Eddie. The make up also deserves praise - we see the women in their young and old years and especially with Lange, it's almost hard to recognize her.