Lauren Greenfield's documentary "The Queen of Versailles", about a billionaire family being hit by the economic crisis while building the biggest house in America, has opened theatrically in the U.S. to stellar reviews. The film, which is co-produced by the Danish production company Plus Pictures, won the Best Director Award at Sundance and now holds a 94 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Los Angelses Times' Sheri Linden calls the film an "absorbing documentary", "excellent and unexpectedly nuanced" and writes:
"The Siegels are up-by-the-bootstraps types, not heirs to fortune, and "Versailles" doesn't reduce them to caricatures. ... In Greenfield's canny and compassionate view, their post-collapse reality check is an emblem of consumerism as affliction, and surprisingly relatable." Read review
Chicago Sun-Times' Roger Ebert is to his own surprise also charmed by the film's characters:
"Knowing what I already knew about 'The Queen of Versailles' when I walked into the movie, I fully expected to hate Jackie and David Siegel … What I left with was not hatred. I disapprove of the values they represent, but I also find them fascinating and just slightly lovable." Read review
A portrait of capitalism
Many critics commend the film for giving insight into the capitalist system and examining the American Dream and the consequences of the fiscal crisis.
New York Times' A.O. Scott writes that the film "captures the tone of the times with a clear, surprisingly compassionate eye. A gaudy guilty pleasure that is also a piece of trenchant social criticism … a sprawling, richly detailed study of ambition, desire and the wild swings of fortune that are included in the price of the capitalist ticket." Read review
Ann Hornaday from Washington Post notes in her four star review that "what might have been a meditation on wealth, greed and consumerism became something else entirely. 'The Queen of Versailles' turns out to be a portrait -- appalling, absorbing and improbably affecting -- of how, even within a system seemingly designed to ensure that the rich get richer, sometimes the rich get poorer.
Amy Biancolli from San Francisco Chronicle concurs:
"The Queen of Versailles," a startlingly candid look at one family's descent from colossal wealth, offers something more than schadenfreude to please the masses. Through a clear lens unclouded by politics or blame, it offers insight into the hazardous American practice of living beyond our means," Biancolli writes and also gives the film top marks.
Read more reviews at Rotten Tomatoes
About The Queen of Versailles
"The Queen of Versailles" is directed by Lauren Greenfield, produced by Evergreen Pictures and co-produced by Mette Heide for Plus Pictures. The film was released in select theaters in the U.S. on 20 July to a solid opening weekend gross of $51,326 and a total domestic gross of $557,266. Read more about the film and see play dates at U.S. distributor Magnolia Pictures' website
Read Co.create's interview Lauren Greenfield On The Making (And Unmaking) Of The Queen Of Versailles