Directed by Michael Sucsy
USA 2009

 

Based on the life stories of the eccentric aunt and first cousin of Jackie Kennedy, starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange, Grey Gardens tells the tender, intimate story of an eccentric mother and daughter (both named Edith Bouvier Beale aka "Big and Little Edie"). They were raised as Park Avenue débutantes but withdrew from New York society, taking shelter at their Long Island summer home, "Grey Gardens ." As their wealth and contact with the outside world dwindled, so did their grasp on reality. They were reintroduced to the world when international tabloids learned of a health department raid on their home, and Jackie swooped in to save her relatives. Based on the lives that inspired the Maysles Brothers' classic documentary.

***

How could a ravishing young debutante and her life-of-every-party mother -- relatives of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, no less -- become crazy cat ladies, occupying a dilapidated 28-room East Hampton mansion? "Grey Gardens," an HBO movie inspired by the eponymous documentary shot in 1973, doesn't fully answer that question -- indeed, there's a rather sizable hole in the story -- but nevertheless has a fabulous time contemplating it, showcasing marvelous performances by Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange. It's a must-see for those fascinated by the lore of the U.S.' modern Camelot, as well as another sure to be lavishly adorned movie for the pay channel.

Director-producer Michael Sucsy (who also co-wrote with Patricia Rozema) is such a devotee of the original documentary that he spends chunks of the movie grainily recreating scenes from it, while turning the filmmakers (Arye Gross, Justin Louis) into minor characters.

The film is strongest, though, when flashing back to portray mother and daughter before their descent, opening in the mid-1930s, when 18-year-old Little Edie (Barrymore) dreamt of being a starlet, and her vivacious mother, Big Edie (Lange), would entertain with elaborate song-and-dance numbers at parties.

Excerpt from Brain Lowry's review at Variety located HERE

TV Premiere: April 18th, 2009

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DVD Review: HBO - Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution HBO Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:43:40 
Video 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.13 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Audio English (Dolby Digital 5.1), DUB: Spanish  (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Subtitles English, French, Spanish, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: HBO

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1

Edition Details:

• Audio Commentary by Michael Sucsy, Lucy Barzun Donnelly and Rachael Horovitz
• Grey Gardens: Then and Now (11:19) 

DVD Release Date: July 14th, 2009

Keep Case
Chapters: 12

 

Comments:

Firstly, for anyone who has seen the original Grey Gardens documentary this is a pretty cool 'reenactment' of some of the dramas that transpired in the eclectic duo's earlier years. It might be worth it solely for the performances as both actresses pull it off like chameleons.

The video quality is strong, progressively transferred on a dual-layered disc. It's anamorphic and colors and detail are quite strong for SD-DVD. Good news again that I don't see excessive manipulation and the image is, expectantly, super-clean. Audio is 5.1 without notable separation sequences but everything is clear and clean. There are optional subtitles. 

The commentary is a good one and the participants know their topic very well - even beyond production details. There is also an 11-minute piece with minor input from Lange and Barrymore. I was very entertained by this. It brought back the pleasure and charisma of Little Edie in the Maysles documentary. You kind of want to see even more. Although initially show on HBO - the inclusion of the extras make the price of $16 seem very reasonable. I'd certainly highly recommend watching this if you get the opportunity. 

Gary W. Tooze

 



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Distribution HBO Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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