Grey Gardens part II, electric boogaloo

by Laurie Henzel

Don’t forget to watch HBO’s Grey Gardens starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange this Saturday at 8. Our review after the jump.edie.bwA story first told as a 1975 documentary that became a cult sensation, and then recently recounted in a celebrated Broadway musical, Grey Gardens, the true tale of mother and daughter ‘Big Edie’ and ‘Little Edie’ Beale, is being revived once more, and the result is another terrific tearjerker. This time, the tragic saga of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ eccentric aunt and cousin- a pair born into wealth and privilege, whose descent into isolated poverty and squalor made national headlines- is getting a glamorous makeover, thanks to its big-name stars, Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange. And with a script that both painstakingly reconstructs moments from the iconic original doc and lushly imagines scenes of the Beale family’s former grandeur, this version, scheduled to premiere on HBO on April 18, unfolds with more plot-driven momentum than its previous incarnations.

edies.outsideOne of the most striking aspects of the film is the way in which Barrymore and Lange transform as the story bounces between time periods. Lighting up the screen one minute as youthful, incandescent glamour girls, each hungry for her own moment in the spotlight, the women then careen seamlessly into scenes depicting them as elderly recluses, hiding out from the world that abandoned them in the filthy remains of their East Hampton estate. Lange, especially, is the spitting image of the real Big Edie in these moments, while Barrymore, though less-convincingly aged, does an admirable job recreating the oddball joie de vivre that made Little Edie a countercultural phenomenon in the ’70s. As much a story about keeping impossible dreams alive as it is about the Gordian Knot of the Beale’s mother-daughter bond, Grey Gardens may not be as accurate a snapshot of these two women’s lives as the doc was, but emotionally, it covers new, compelling ground that fans of the original wo’t be able
to resist. [Emily Rems]

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