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Grey Gardens
The aristocratic class has a rich tradition of dignified artistic representation. We are shown many photographs and paintings of the Beales that are in line with this tradition—but Grey Gardens in no way adheres to those standards. The camera is frequently at a downward angle. We stare from above at Big Edie and Little Edie as they sunbathe or eat ice cream in bed.
May 05, 2015
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If it were made today, it would likely be a more clinically correct but dramatically deficient film—the sad story of a mentally ill woman trapped in a co-dependent relationship with an enabling mother. But, as made in 1975, it is an epic tragicomedy of impoverished gentry clinging to each other desperately, wallowing in past glory and regrets—Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner with a touch of John Waters.
April 10, 2015
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Repeat viewings of Grey Gardens reveals a narratively complex structure that is equal parts journalistic, modernist, Gothic, and melodramatic.
March 10, 2015
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I found Grey Gardens incredibly unnerving. It truly rattled me. I took the subway home, worried that I wouldn’t be able to sleep that night. I have seen the film many times since, and my relationship with it is ongoing, and has changed quite a bit, with age and experience, but I have never forgotten the intensity of that first viewing.
March 06, 2015
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Little’s stubborn, glamorous pride (and scarf technique)—and a feeding of the attic raccoons with dumped-out Wonder Bread and cereal—are standouts in this horrifying classic.
March 04, 2015
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The Maysles wisely opted to not allow in any external, objective information about what truly happened to bring the Edies to their present state. Their account is what counts, and Grey Gardens remains one of the greatest and possibly only disaster movies that clearly benefits from not having seen the moments of reaping.
December 11, 2013
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Rarely have high spirits and theatrical energy seemed like such a tragic waste; an era and its myths seem to be dying on-screen in real time.
January 01, 2010
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The film is a masterpiece of editing, weaving over a hundred hours of footage to create a world that is hermetically sealed while containing dozens of fragmented moments reflecting two lifetimes of recycled memories and shattered dreams. The surreal outcome – perhaps inevitable given the subjects’ remove from reality – further conflates the film’s status as both documentary and fiction.
August 20, 2008
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There is an odd, old world beauty in this dysfunction, something that attracts viewers like myself time and time again. I’ve lost count as to how many times I’ve watched this film since acquiring a screener in 1998 and every-time I turn it on, I’m riveted by women who have now become like documentary friends. In spite of and honestly, because of their problems, I love them.
May 06, 2007
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Throughout the film she remains an incredibly sympathetic character, as she fights, complains, cries, laughs, and dances around her crumbling house, a sweater wrapped around her head, dressed in her ever changing assortment of “costumes”. The charm and uniqueness of Edie makes Grey Gardens an absolutely stunning achievement and required viewing.
January 01, 2007
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Grey Gardens is evidence of Albert and David Maysles’s unique brilliance as portraitists, actively engaged by subjects who do not so much sit for them (the Beales have too much energy, wit, and imagination to be passive subjects) as help them shape the film by exposing their emotional trajectories.
January 01, 2001
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The cinema verite movement finally unveiled its exploitative heart with this unpleasant 1976 documentary on Edith Ewing Bouvier and her daughter Edie… David and Albert Maysles (Gimme Shelter) directed, with an attitude of curdling condescension clearly emerging from their vaunted “blank” style.
February 24, 1976
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…Along with the above film, there were two other self-indulgent hand-held camera ramblings. In Grey Gardens, a smug crew, liberal and complacent as to its motives, swims toward and around two compulsive, painfully poignant performers, a pair of recluses trying to play up to and not let down this movie crew which is putting them in the spotlight.
November 01, 1975