March 4, 2013

The Queen of Versailles

Lauren Greenfield, 2012


Schadenfreude -  is pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.

This is a documentary that is basically a "riches to rags" tale. It follows the Siegels, a wealthy couple who at the beginning of the film are building a replica of the Palace of Versailles as a home, only to hit a rough patch with their wealth that comprimises the construction of their dream home. You don't feel sorry for the couple, and why would you? The house is a monstrocity, and they are an epitome of everything thats going wrong with our country. Jackie Siegel, the wife, at least has some compassion, some sense of generosity. The problem is her greedy naïveté overshadows these qualities. David Siegel is even worse. You see that he is nothing but an arrogant shell of a person. When things are going good he is a lukewarm, egotistical narcissist. As soon as the fortune begins to dwindle you see the real David appear. The douchiest of douches. They make you grateful for your status quo. They are not able to stop and smell the roses, because there are no roses. There is only a garage filled with unused bicycles from past Christmases, and endless white carpets covered in ignored dog feces. The half built construction site is a symbol of their empty souls. The best thing that could happen to these people is they lose everything and get brought down to the same level as the rest of humanity. The only praise I will give them is that they were willing to let the camera document so much over the course of two years, through what they considered difficult times for their family. As far as the filmmaking went, the structure itself seemed loose but there was noticeably impressive editing. Its no surprise that the Siegel's ended up filing a defamation suit against Greenfield after this film was released.

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