Monday, July 30, 2012

The Queen of Versailles Review - 3½ Stars

This year’s most buzzed about documentary deserves the buzz.  Director Lauren Greenfield struck reality show comedy gold when the Siegel family allowed her to follow them as they drew up plans and began construction on the largest house in America—a 90 thousand square foot palace modeled after the top three floors of a Los Vegas hotel which in turn was modeled on the palace at Versailles in France.  The Siegels live more like the Beverly Hillbillies than French royalty.  She is thirty years his junior and has filled their present home with children, antiques, dogs and stuffed versions of the dogs who lived with them earlier—in fact one carcass (corpse?) lies spread on top of a grand piano.  Mr. Siegel makes his money selling time shares to middle class America.  Things go swell until the 2008 melt down.  Then his cash flow stops and so, in turn, does the family.  Ultimately the largest house in America sits half finished hoping so other billionaire will take over the challenge.  The Siegel’s once happy marriage looks a little rocky toward the end and what that I feel?  Maybe a hint of compassion for the ultimate portrait of the American Dream gone wrong.  Does it deliver what it promises?  Jaw dropping documentary.  Is it entertaining?  Stunning.  Is it worth the price of admission?  A documentary that has the 99 per cent talking.   Hey, things are tough all over.