Watch Grey Gardens
- 1 hr 44 min
Grey Gardens is a 2009 film directed by Michael Sucsy and stars Drew Barrymore, Jessica Lange, and Jeanne Tripplehorn. The film is based on the documentary of the same name that was made in 1975 by the Maysles brothers. It follows the story of "Big Edie" and "Little Edie" Bouvier Beale, who were the aunt and cousin, respectively, of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
The Bouvier Beale family was born into wealth and lived in a grand estate in East Hampton, New York. However, as the family's fortune dwindled, so did the upkeep of the estate. By the 1970s, the once-grand mansion had fallen into disrepair and was overrun with cats, raccoons, and other animals. It was in this setting that the Maysles brothers filmed their now-iconic documentary, which captured the eccentricities and idiosyncrasies of Big Edie and Little Edie.
The 2009 film tells the story of the Bouvier Beales from a different angle, showing us both their lives before the mansion fell into disrepair, as well as the aftermath of the Maysles brothers' documentary. The film is split into two parts: the first half shows us the lives of Big Edie and Little Edie in the 1930s and 1940s, when they were young and vivacious society women, while the second half takes place in 1975, in the aftermath of the documentary.
In the early part of the film, we see Big Edie (Jessica Lange) as a glamorous socialite living in New York City. She is married to Phelan Jr. Beale (Ken Howard), a successful banker, and they have three children together: two sons and a daughter named Edith, who goes by "Little Edie" (Drew Barrymore). Little Edie is depicted as a feisty and independent young woman who dreams of becoming a Broadway star.
The family is shown to be incredibly wealthy, living in a mansion with servants and throwing lavish parties. As the years go on, however, the family's fortune begins to decline. Phelan Jr. dies, leaving Big Edie to fend for herself and her daughter. Little Edie's dreams of stardom never come to fruition, and she becomes increasingly unhappy living at home with her mother.
The second half of the film takes place in 1975, after the documentary has been released. The Beales are now living in squalor in the dilapidated mansion, surrounded by cats and animals. Little Edie is still living with her mother, and the two women bicker and fight constantly. The documentary has brought the family unwanted attention, and they are harassed by reporters and gawkers who come to see the famous Beales in person.
Throughout the film, we see the complex relationship between Big Edie and Little Edie. We see how Little Edie resents her mother for keeping her from achieving her dreams and for running their lives into the ground. We also see how much the two women depend on each other and how they find comfort in each other's company despite their constant bickering.
The film is a fascinating portrait of two women who were born into wealth and privilege but who, through a series of circumstances, ended up living in squalor. It is also a poignant look at the complicated relationship between a mother and daughter. The performances by Lange and Barrymore are both excellent, with Lange capturing the fragility and vulnerability of Big Edie and Barrymore imbuing Little Edie with a sense of fierce independence and determination.
Overall, Grey Gardens is a captivating and thought-provoking film that offers a unique look at the lives of two fascinating women. Whether you are familiar with the original documentary or are coming to the story for the first time, this film is an absolute must-see.
Grey Gardens is a 2009 history movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 44 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.4.