18 January 2019 | paul-allaer
Delightful, and candid, look at the complicated mother-daughter relationship
"Bright Lights: Starring Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher" (2016 release; 95 min.) is a documentary about the complicated relationship between (mother) Debbie Reynold and (daughter) Carrie Fisher, with Carrie's brother Todd chipping in as well, and their dad, Eddie Fisher, looming in the background. As the movie opens, we see 8mm footage of the Fisher family as Debbie and Carrie comment. We then learn that they live right next to each other in a large compound in LA, with Carrie coming over frequently to her mom's to take care of her. When Debbie is getting ready to do a performance in Connecticut, Carrie expresses her concerns. "Inside her head she's the same person, but her body isn't", Carrie worries... At this point we are 10 min. into the movie but to tell you more of the 'plot' would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: it is important to note that Todd Fisher produced this, and was the main driving force behind it. It is of course also the only reason why we are given this astounding all-access, giving us a clear picture what the daily lives of these people actually look like. The documentary of course also goes back in time, reminding us of the "Hollywood royalty" that were Debbie and Eddie. There is a bunch of never before seen footage (from Todd's archives, presumably). There is also an incredible clip of Carrie singing "Bridge Over Troubled Water" at one of Debbie's shows when Carrie was 15 (in 1971). The 2010 footage of Debbie with her dad Eddie (only months before his passing away) is sad and even uncomfortable. Let's be clear: the movie makers did not dodge the hard stuff, including Carrie's drug addiction (discussed in detail), and other family issues. The last 15-20 minutes of the documentary (which wrapped shooting in early 2015) are of course the most touching, and poignant, given that Debbie and Carrie would pass away at the tail end of 2016 within 24 hrs. of each other.
I happened to stumble on this in the HBO on Demand library, and really didn't know what to expect. As it turns out, "Bright Lights" is a delight and candid look at these two legends of Hollywood. May they rest in peace.