The Maysles brothers pay visits to Edith Bouvier Beale, nearing 80, and her daughter Edie. Reclusive, the pair live with cats and raccoons in Grey Gardens, a crumbling mansion in East Hampton. Edith is dry and quick-witted - a singer, married but later separated, a member of high society. Edie is voluble, dresses - as she puts it - for combat in tight ensembles that include scarves wrapped around her head. There are hints that Edie came home 24 years before to be cared for rather than to care for her mother. The women address the camera, talking over each other, moving from the present to events years before. They're odd, with flinty affection for each other. Written by
She was the girl who had everything - Money, good looks and social position. her mother - a classic Bouvier beauty. Now they are living amongst the souvenirs of their lives. In Grey Gardens. This is their story. A love story. Sort of. Hailed as one of the oddest, most beautiful films ever.
According to a 2009 interview in the San Francisco Chronicle, Edith 'Little Edie' Bouvier Beale wore a beautiful red dress to the 1975 premiere of this film, only she wore it backwards, with the zipper in front. See more »
I took this out arbitrarily from the library the other night, having no idea of the film's cult, influence, or that it is currently being staged as a musical.(!) Most of the comments here are on target, it's moving, funny, sad, and yes, a tad exploitive despite the best intentions of the filmmakers. The expanded Chriterion edition is a must for anyone who loved it when it came out.
I think you can also see in little Edie the fall of a class that sort of disappeared, you can hear it in old films of Jackie O too; people just don't talk like that anymore. I think as a documentary, it would have been interesting to get more information about how the home fell into disrepute, Old Edie at least still seems aware of what's going on to a certain degree; couldn't She see the once spectacular home disintegrating?
Yet the film's subject is the life the two women have constructed for themselves now, a real life Tennesse Williams one act. Well worth your time.
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