I think it’s fair to say we as Americans have an obsession with the rags-to-riches story and a fetish-like desire for judging rich and famous people with a mixture of envy and disgust. The Queen of Versailles, Jackie Sieger, has everything, is pretty out-of touch with reality, and benefited greatly from the sale of sub-prime mortgages. And yet somehow, she is completely and utterly likeable. This Sundance 2012 tragicomic documentary is an equal-parts moving and funny post-recession commentary on the folly of the American Dream.
- Director: Lauren Greenfield
- Executive Producers Frank Evers, Dan Cogan
- Producers Lauren Greenfield, Danielle Renfrew Behrens
- Cinematographer Tom Hurwitz
Jackie and David Sieger live like royalty in a massive estate in Florida with 8 kids. Financed by David’s timeshare resort company, the family is preparing for the completion of the pièce de résistance of their success; a massive 90,000 sq/foot home: the largest house in America. Simultaneously, David works to open a new building in Las Vegas. But when Wall Street plummets in 2008, things start to fall apart around them. Attempting, sometimes very unsuccessfully, to adapt to their new level of income, the family shows us a side of the recession we could not have imagined.
I was captivated by this piece for the full 100 minutes. It is hilarious. Lauren Greenfield does a spectacular job of drawing out the absurdities of a lifestyle most of us fantasize about. Mix together the best of Jon and Kate Plus 8, The Osbournes and The Beverly Hills Hillbillies; that will give you an idea of the type of comedy you’ll see in this film. But that being said, this film is also a tragedy to which one might draw almost Faulknerian comparisons. Instead of mourning for the death of the glorious South, we mourn the death of our fucked-up American Dream.
I wanted more. This film takes place over the course of 4 years, but I still wanted more. I want to see their kids grow up and get jobs to support themselves. I want to see Jackie and David (her husband) deal with their strained relationship. I want to see their nanny find a way to visit her family. I want to see what happens to their unfinished, foreclosed palace, Versailles. I know it’s a little unrealistic for this type of documentary, but I wanted to see more of a conclusion. It felt unfinished.
Nothing is funnier than the absurdity of real life. I enjoyed this quite a bit and think it is right on the mark as a funny and moving piece of social commentary.