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Grey Gardens
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Reviews & Ratings for
Grey Gardens More at IMDbPro »

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Index 55 reviews in total 

15 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

There goes the Neighborhood

Author: amosduncan_2000 from United States
3 May 2006

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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15 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Human exploitation by filmmakers

Author: Aristides-2 from United States
10 September 2006

A low point in human interaction was reached by the Maysles Brothers with this film. Do remember, you who used words like "masterpiece"when reviewing this film, that these Maysles creeps didn't just happen to drive to the Hamptons and happen to shoot film on some eccentric people. No, when they found these two poor pathetic people they then had to finance their project (and imagine what they told the money people to sell the project). Then they befriended the two extremely vulnerable women. No meeting of minds here or real consensual participation. These wretched Maysles smiled, kissed ass, did whatever they had to to get the Beales to cooperate and then exploited them as viciously as has ever been done. One would like to think that these hustlers had occasional thoughts of remorse and guilt. But the film-making process, given the preplanning, actual shooting and then editing took a lot of time and their goal had no provisions for actually relating to the Beales as human beings. An exploitation film perpetrated by the vilest of people. As time accrued their film-making reputation has been seriously stained by what they did here. Their reputation as human beings is execrable. That is what people will remember them as. Grotesque hustlers.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Haunting, disturbing and sad documentary

Author: fsmorel from United States
27 January 2009

From the first time I heard about this pseudo documentary, I was fascinated and made a mental note to rent it at some point. Then I saw that HBO is making a film based on the documentary starring Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore and picked it up last night.

I have to say that I don't post reviews or comments about movies, books or music unless they really move me. This film definitely affected me! In fact I am still disturbed by what I saw and the voices of these women are still burning my ears.

This film was not so much a documentary as it was a peek inside the life of two women who at some point must have been taken care of (and very well at that) by a whole host of people. People to help them clean, cook, dress etc. About 30 minutes into the film, it was obvious that Big Edie and Little Edie had once lived a life of luxury. At some point (and we are not given any information at all about their past) we can only assume that they were abandoned by Big Edie's husband and were left to their own devices to survive with very little money and even less skills to live on their own. In my experience, most documentary films move back and forth from present to past and back as a way of educating the viewer so we can understand what we are watching in some sort of context. This film and the women in it, give us no context at all. From the minute it starts, we are thrown into the world of the "Edies" and are given no information at any point about their past which can help explain the present, except through a few words while they look at old photographs. Not knowing the context can be interesting at times, but I found it hard to swallow in this case. I wanted to know what circumstances brought these two women to where they were.

I also found it difficult to understand a word that Big Edie said, and her voice was so unnerving and loud that I gave up trying to decipher anything she said. By the end, I felt like she was a bitter old woman, jealous and un-thankful of her daughter who obviously devoted years of her life to taking care of her Mother. Little Edie on the other hand was charming . A 56 year old who looked 40 and acted 17. She was so happy to have the attention of the camera and made the most of it in a funny and pathetically sad way. Smearing on her black eyeliner and drawing in her black eyebrows with a heavy hand, trying to re-claim her youth. She was a drop dead beauty in her day. It seems to me that her life was based on her looks, as though that was all she ever knew how to be... pretty. It's always disturbing to see women that attempt to deny what is natural when growing older by dressing in tight and revealing clothing and too much make-up.

This movie was an exercise in the intricate dynamics of a mother-daughter relationship who had been left with no skills to make it on their own set on the backdrop of a decaying filthy house with raccoons living freely among them and the cats pee and poop on the couch all while the Beale women are gloriously unaware of much of anything other than their own star potential thanks to their former beauty and the Bouvier name that Jacqueline Kennedy made so wonderfully famous.

I highly recommend this film if you want to be transported into another world. For me, it gave credence to the saying that truth is stranger than fiction.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Beauty in decay

Author: ellkew from London
15 June 2007

I only saw this recently but had been aware of it for a number of years and have always been intrigued by its title. It now belongs to me as one of my very favourite films. It is hard to describe the incredible subject matter the Maysles discovered but everything in it works wonderfully. It has so many memorable images and moments where you feel you are encroaching on a very private world. I fell in love with this film and with the characters in it. It is as though the filmmakers have cast a spell of the audience and drawn us into the strange world of the eccentric Beales, a true aristocratic family. It has a tangible atmosphere and I found myself wishing I could be there away from it all, cooking my corn on the cob at my bedside table. It has an air of sadness that permeates throughout. A fall from greatness for this once esteemed family. The money had gone but their airs and graces remained, as well as their beauty. It drew me in from the first frame and long after the film finished I found myself wondering about their fate. Wondering that if I took a walk along East Hampton beach I might still hear Old Edie's voice in the night and see the silhouette of Little Edie dancing in the window behind the thick hanging creeper. Unforgettable.

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:


Author: lyndsiekivell from Louisiana, United States
24 February 2006

I first saw this movie in my plays & playwrights course at Tulane. I was awed at how beautiful and raw this documentary was. It is a sincere look into the unedited reality of a life of solitude. The family is fascinating and I thought it really showed Little Edie at her core. **As a side note My professor even told me that throughout the filming, Little Edie became infatuated with one of the camera men.** The beauty, I find, comes from the naturalness of the family's dysfunction. It is evident in the relationship between mother and daughter that neither could function in society alone and you begin to wish for Little Edie's rehabilitation to society. In all, the film is gripping in its aesthetic quality and it's portrayal of surprising beauty. Two thumbs way up!

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Portrayals of two beautiful women, a singer, the mother, and a dancer, the daughter.

Author: india-3 from Scandinavia, Wisconsin, U.S.
20 April 1999

The daughter's words are poetry: "I can't go on another year. I got to get to a hotel room." "I lost my blue scarf in a sea of leaves." "The marble faun is moving in...he just gave us a washing machine. That's the deal." "I'm pulverized by this latest thing." "..raccoons and cats become a little bit boring for too long a time." "..any little rat's nest, mouse hole I'd like better." And there is wisdom in the mother's words: "...yes the pleasure is all mine." "This little book will keep me straight, straight as a dye." "Always one must do everything correctly." "Where the hell did you come from?" "...bring me my little radio I've got to have some professional music." "I'm your mother. Remember me?" The mother/daughter relationship is drawn in this magnificent film. This is a Mother's day film.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

The examinations of love

Author: peapulation ( from Ireland
9 January 2009

When it first came out, this work by the Meysels brothers was much criticized and even judged to be exploitation. Luckily, it is now hailed as a masterpiece of documentary cinema, especially now that society has been exposed to real exploitation in what is reality television, and the bad evolution of most direct cinema.

Really, at first, we must say that this isn't really direct cinema, it is more cinema verité. The difference between the two is very slight, but it mainly is the fact that in this documentary, we are made to feel the presence of the Meysels brothers, and they do interact with the characters filmed. This as well makes it clear that it is not exploitation. The Meysels have been allowed in the house, and they are included in what is a very eccentric situation of a very eccentric household. And both Edith and Edie just love the idea of being filmed.

It would have been very disappointing had very been shown only a voice of God narration and shallow interviews. Here, we are given a full portrait of the madness of the house, a madness that does seem to go down well with both Edie and her mother Edith. Their house is a mess, litter and animals everywhere, faded colors and furniture all over the house, and the constant fights that are constant interactions of reality. These two people have lived with each other their whole life, and are not fighting in front of the camera because they want the attention, but rather because they can't help talking to each other this way. They know each other too well to hide their inner feelings, there is no need. In the end, though, even as they blame each other for their lives, they really love each other deeply. Edie says she doesn't want her mother to die, because she loves her very much, and Edith says that she doesn't want Edie to leave her because she doesn't want to be alone.

But the most interesting aspect of the film is that regardless of their old age, the two women can't help be girls. They cannot help being one the singer, the other the dancer. Exhibit all their artistic skills in front of their camera. When Edie asks David Meysels rhetorically "Where have you been all my life?" she is really very happy that she finally gets to show the whole world herself and her wonderful showgirls skills. A beautiful portrait of stylistic importance and a charm that is highly unlikely to be ever seen again, the way only the Meysels and few others could do.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Haunting, ground-breaking, poignant look at mothers and daughters

Author: brendastern from United States
19 April 2007

I knew about but had never seen Grey Gardens, before I saw the Broadway musical of the same name. Friends cautioned me that if I had not seen the movie, the musical would not make sense. It did, but it also prompted me to rent the movie. At first, I thought it was a train wreck, full of strange, shrieking characters, and it was exceedingly hard to watch. But being able to stop it, digest it and go back to it made me realize why Grey Gardens is considered to be a memorable documentary.

Both Big Edie and Little Edie are unforgettable and their utter lack of self-consciousness is worth witnessing. Both of them remain beautiful despite their encroaching age. They have a relationship that will chill any woman (and undoubtedly some men) and make you re- examine your own dealings with your mother. In an era when reality television and cinema is commonplace, it's fascinating to see the Mayleses' work from three decades ago, and realize what an impact the film must have had.

I echo what other posters have said: how were they allowed to slip into such squalor by their family? But beyond that, how could two people living in the 1970s be able to escape reality in such a complete fashion? Or were they simply considered too crazy to be helped? I would highly recommend watching this with the commentary track, which gave me additional insight into the film.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Should be a Cult Classic, and kinda is

Author: karalynnn from United States
16 January 2006

Grey Gardens was enthralling and crazy and you just couldn't really look away. It was so strange, and funny and sad and sick and ……….. really no words can describe. The move Grey Gardens is beyond bizarre. I found out about this film reading my Uncle John's Great Big Bathroom Reader, by the Bathroom Reader's Institute and it was well worth the rental and bump to the top of my movie watching queue. This movie is about the nuttiest most eccentric people that may have ever been filmed. One should watch it for their favorite Edie outfits, which I am sure include curtains. When I get old I almost wish to be just like Big Edie, thumbing my nose at normalcy and society.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

This film is shocking, amusing, sad and mesmerizing...

Author: Shandy from Los Angeles CA
4 May 2001

Grey Gardens is shocking, amusing, sad and mesmerizing. I watched in amazement as Ediths Jr. and Sr. bickered and performed while reminiscing of their past. Their existence in a dilapidated mansion, (which they had not left for more than fifteen years) is both a comedy and a tragedy. This is a film you will not soon forget.

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