6 November 2003 | Kieran_Kenney
I found Grey Garden's to be a gripping film, an amazingly intimate
look at too eccentrics who basically have the right idea: forget
society and live in a delapidated house with no heating and a huge
brood of cats and raccoons, persuing their own interests rather
mundainly, all the while chattering at the camera.
Big Edie and Little Edie are the two crazies that the Mazles Bros.
have chosen to document. They seem like characters out of a
Fellini film, only stranger, if that makes any sense. Old Edie is
almost fully bedridden, a pile of papers, clothes and dirty dishes
growing around her. Little Edie is even more interesting. She
prances around the house, always wearing a baboushka-like
headdress around her head, completely covering her hair. We
never see her hair throughout the film, nor do we ever get a hint
that she still has much. At age fifty eight, though, she is still
beautiful and full of life.
In Grey Gardens, we get the sense that both of these women's
lives have become much less than what they once were. Little
Edie is probably the sadder of the two. While her mother, in her
earlier years, got married, made a family, lived luxuriously and
even made some recordings (the scene where, at 77, she sings
along with a recording of "Tea for Two" she made decades ago is
one of the films best scenes), Edie left her promicing career as a
model to take care of her ailing mother. At 58, she still longed to
find her prince charming. If anything Little Edie is still a little girl,
full of dreams of glamour and fame, and of domestic and romantic
bliss, that have yet to be fulfilled.
Highlights of the film include the opening moments, where Little
Edie explains her outfit to the camera, the "tea for two" sequence,
the birthday party, the climactic argument, the grocery deliver
scene, and the scene in the attic. The whole thing is incredibly
candid and unpretencious. And it's made all the more remarcable
since it's all real.
I suggest seeing Grey Gardens back-to-back with the Kenneth
Anger short Puce Moment. The Criterion DVD is $35.00, but it's
worth every penny.