Grey Gardens is funny and sad, bitter and sweet, melodramatic and untheatrical. It's pretty much everything you want to watch in a film. Big Edie and Little Edie's bigger than life way of being is one of the most amazing things ever captured in film.
It's a beautifully free flowing document/interview, where we do not hear questions asked and the Maysles stay in the background. It's amazingly close to a "reality show" experience, and hard to believe it's 1975... We meet Big and Little Edie, eccentric and very interesting personas indeed. We experience firsthand their dependance and exclusion from the society. Excellent.
It wasn't until the last 20 minutes of the film that it really hit me. Those latter sequences of Big Edie singing, the two bickering and Little Edie dancing alone in the hallway are such powerfully sad moments. The two Edies in their decadent decaying world are profoundly tragic & inspiring all at once. Their self imposed exile is like Scott Fitzgerald nightmare, it's fascinating tale that exposes a truly unique life
This is what happens when you live in the past. It's the story of Miss Havisham and Carrie and countless women controlled and in arrested development through their mothers who are bitter at life. The most interesting side to it is that in such an era, with such privilege, the standard of their living met such downfall. Little Edie would rather dance and sing whilst sleeping on a bed covered in shit than save herself.
I'm largely unfamiliar with the historical/political context of this, but from where I'm standing there sure are worse ways go grow old. You could quietly extinguish in the corner of your childrens' living room, proper and irrelevant. This documentary had sadness and delusions, but also song, risque dress and I mostly felt that these women had some control over their lives, one that's hard to hold on to in old age.
A fascinating look at the strange and isolated world inhabited by eccentric recluses Big and Little Edie Beale. You couldn't make it up. A well constructed snapshot of slow social decay, very in and of its time, and yet somehow also timeless (and fixated on the past). The Maysles clearly were very sensitive to their subjects - Nick Broomfield could learn a thing or two about documentary making from them.
A dreamscape domestic wasteland of glamour faded, youth departed and ambitions relinquished caught in a post-Gatsby-ian Americana hangover. In parts fascinating, uncomfortable, charming and deeply saddening, it's a testament to the sense that real life is often stranger (and more interesting) than fiction - the lives of the Bouviers are a non-fiction narrative as close to a Woolf novel as you can get.
"- The cat's going to the bathroom right right in back of my portrait. - God, isn't that awful? - No, I'm glad he is. I'm glad somebody's doing something he wanted to do. " Once the youth is gone, the friends are no longer there and the amount of cats you keep increases.,
Transfixing and entertaining in a bizarre way. The mother and daughter pair in Grey Gardens have a fluid understanding of past and present, and their inability to escape each other was especially fascinating. There were times I felt the film was exploitative in a "look how weird they are" type of way; however, our understanding of mental illness was less sophisticated in the 1970s.