‘Grey Gardens’ (1972) Review

Directors: Ellen Hovde, Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Muffle Meyer

Cinematography: David and Albert Maysles

Rating: 66

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Grey Gardens is one of those films that I find fascinating, but can’t get past the fact that it’s an extremely boring documentary. The charm of this doc is the two lovely ladies that behave as if there are no cameras present and shows two, reclusive individuals that are completely disconnected to most of the world.

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Gray Gardens released during the height of Kennedy-obsession and learning more about American royalty, and how it led to two side characters in the grand scheme of things, to destructive, nasty human behavior and the human interest story that took place. As someone growing up in my generation, I will never understand the world’s infatuation with the Kennedy’s to the point where people were tracking down relatives.

The Story

The documentary follows Edith Bouvier Beale, the mother and relative to Jackie Kennedy, and the eccentric Edie Bouvier Beale, her daughter, who live in a completely rundown Long Island estate free from the rest of the world. The stories are anecdotal pieces told (and sung) by the mother and daughter about past life experiences, former lovers, and what-ifs, and essentially captures two people being true to themselves. That’s the beauty of this film.

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However, I could do 30 minutes of their stories, arguing, and joking, but trying to maintain that level of attention to these people for the entire runtime was impossible. It’s odd to find the message and tone of a film enjoyable, but get bogged down by what’s happening on screen. I find the Beale family to be lovable, odd, and interesting but with no real progression of the story. Leaving it all surface level, left me detached from their personal stories.

Verdict

Grey Gardens is beloved by film fans, but people in my generation simply won’t understand the interest in this family or the love for the Kennedy’s. I absolutely wouldn’t recommend this to my close friends, but anyone who finds that story of the outcast Kennedy’s sounds interesting to you, then give it a shot. As I said, it’s wild, funny, and even intriguing, but it goes overboard showing that.

 


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