Iconic portrait of eccentric, reclusive mother and daughter duo Big and Little Edie, close relatives of Jackie Onassis who live together in a filthy, decaying mansion in the Hamptons with a slew of cats and raccoons.
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The biggest problem with this documentary was that watching it felt exploitative and voyeuristic. I disagree with those who saw warmth and affection in this documentary - there was very little of that coming from the Maysles brothers. They took two vulnerable women with a famous connection, filmed their descent into decay, delusion and destitution and got accolades for doing so. Historically interesting, but obscene.
Maysles are great film makers, but there are more interesting people than this in my neighborhood. I think that if they weren't relatives of Jackie Onassis, they would not be "cult figures". The cats and raccoons are cute, but I have plenty of those in my neighborhood as well.
Tough to understand how this is one of the 10 best documentaries ever. No sense of drama or narrative, just the two women, who certainly have an appeal and inspire sympathy in how detached from planet earth and the present time they are. But over 90 minutes of their random thoughts is a bit too much.
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
I first saw it when it premiered art the New York Film Festiavl. I shall never forget the sight of Little Edie standing up in the box and getting the Standing O of all time. The Maysles struck gold when they found these two remarkable women (and Jerry too) and the reverberations of their work with them continue to this very day.
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.