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Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Queen of Versailles

Jackie Siegel

The Lauren Greenfield-directed documentary tells the story of top 1-percent-ers David and Jackie Siegel, who began building the largest home in America (the 90,000 square foot Orlando mansion modeled after Versailles) before the housing crash put their fortune in jeopardy. Greenfield spent three years with the unfiltered couple and their family. And a lot happened in that short span.

The film offers not only a peek at the time-share industry mogul and his company, but also a rare look at fragile moments of the extremely wealthy. Most of the film is played for laughs, but it’s the heartfelt moments from the extended family that take this documentary beyond the likes of television reality shows about the rich and distracted. 

This is a larger-than-life family in monstrous denial so their unique brand of humility won’t leave you sympathetic, but you’ll be surprised how much you care about the outcome of their situation. Which leads to my only complaint; finished in 2011, this film seems like it’s missing a final act.

Simply put:  Expertly plays more like a fascinating character study film and unscripted comedy than a reality show.

Award potential:  As a comedy it’s too slight to get a nod for Oscar Best Documentary. Greenfield took best documentary director at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012 for this film. 

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks. Probably worth your hard-earned ten bucks just to hear what the Hertz rental car salesman has to say to Jackie.

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