house, reveal so many layers of a world that is inhabited by stranger and/or bigger than
life characters; profile individuals whom through their unique anarchy prove rich and
dimensional beyond all emotional comprehension, but it truly is all there -- subtle and
sometimes silent -- it is all there..delicately approached, yet remarkably enriched. And if
anything comes across about the Beales as lived through the eyes of this film, it’s that
they had an unimaginable amount of love for one another. An affection that is clear and
present, proving that the scope of familial love is without judgement or persecution.
Life is for living! You can have your cake...and eat it too.
GREY GARDENS starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange, directed by Michael
Sucsy is airing exclusively on HBO.
CLICK HERE for more by JC Alvarez
Copyright 2009| Ambiente. Do not reproduce without prior authorization.
endearing them and
popularizing them to
the fanciful nature of
the particularly garish
centric gay community.
Shunned by their
uptight and upper-
a reversal of fortune
plunged the duo into
a solitary confinement of their own doing.
It’s no surprise that the tragically campy evolution of their tale is as enduring and
resilient as the pair were in life, and as realized in the film written and directed by
Michael Sucsy, the Beale’s are continually texturized as portrayed by Drew Barrymore in
the role of “Little Edie” and Academy Award® winning actress Jessica Lange, who
matches the absolute and concrete resolve of “Big Edie”, a larger than life personality
that ruled over a manor wrought with rubbish and a court of stray cats and wild raccoons
that came to roost alongside the outgrowth of Grey Gardens and defiled the family
portraits with their droppings and further disparages . It is fitting that Lange, who
embodies the heart of the film, is able to elevate Barrymore who is the soul of our story,
into perhaps the greatest performance of her still expanding and exploratory career.
www.ambiente.us MAY | MAYO 2009
HBO Revitalizes the Glamour of GREY GARDENS
by JC Alvarez
We live in a particularly nostalgic bubble. Empowered by the idealism of a new
administration, America has been quick to pardon the perils of it’s recent history,
although humbly accepting the challenges set before us by an unrelenting economic
crisis. It’s just another step to strengthening our resolve as individuals...as
Americans. Because therein lies the strength of our character. We shall overcome...
breathlessly awaiting the dawn of the new Camelot. Similarly searching for the silver
lining in all of life’s pitfalls evolved the story of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis’
relatives, her aunt and first cousin, the Beales. In the posh opulence of the East
Hamptons lies the timeless manor and the all-too well known story of Grey Gardens.
Comparatively faced with their own economic depression, the lives of Edith “Big Edie”
Bouvier Beale and her daughter “Little Edie” Bouvier Beale who lived in isolation and
squalor in Grey Gardens as it dilapidated over the years from neglect, has been
interpreted many times over from a book, to a musical, to the infamous documentary
that has just given breath and blood to the HBO film that reveals their unique and
eccentric story behind said documentary. The film by Albert and David Maysles
chronicled the story which propelled the Beale’s into
If there was ever any doubt that Drew Barrymore was little more than a target of the
Hollywood gossip columns, a spoiled heir of an acting family dynasty that had an “in”,
and her charming debut in the film classic E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial was just that...
charming, then audiences will have to prepare themselves for the debut of this Drew
Barrymore...the actor. The Charlie’s Angels “simplicity” has been replaced by one of the
most emotionally complex and honest character portrayals of any actor’s career. Drew
Barrymore does more than just embody the role of “Little Edie”, she has committed
herself to devour every moment that she is on screen with subtle nuance and
unparalleled grace, humanizing an otherwise horrifying and stereotyped depiction of the
oft-characterized younger Beale, and making her not only the most relatable of figures,
but the most sympathetic.
“Little Edie” sacrifices her own ambition of becoming a glamourous Hollywood starlet
on a par with the rising popularity of Judy Holiday, and is forced to leave the hustle and
bustle of big city living to comfort her mother’s delicate and fragile state after her father
leaves “Big Edie” because of her own escalating and eccentric behavior. It is after all at
the behest of “Mother Darling” that she
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insists her “chicken” return to the roost, especially to
comfort and console her -- protect her from the
solicit and darkly intentions of a married man! After
the passing of Mr. Beale, the East Hamptom manse,
Grey Gardens is left in their name and bargained, at
least until the trust begins to run out.
Then it only becomes a matter of time before inertia
takes over and the pair isolate themselves from
what seems the entirety of the outside world. It isn't
until the intervention of Jackie O. (portrayed in
the film by the miraculously ageless Jeanne
Tripplethorn that insists on pulling the two out of the
squalor and depression they’ve exiled themselves into, that the
Beales suddenly clean up their act!
When the opportunity presents itself, for “Little Edie” to live her life in front of the camera
lens (you could say “Little Edie” was the quintessential reality star) she has so opted for
her entire life, she relishes to bring documentarians Albert and David Maysle (played
respectfully by Arye Gross and Justin Loius) into the confines of Grey Gardens.
Suddenly the relationship between mother and daughter, stalwart and dependent, and
yet still so melancholy becomes all the more glorious as performed by both these
talented women (meaning Barrymore and Lange). The lives of these introverted and
damaged souls is suddenly magnified, realized and bared open in all it’s intricacy . If
the original documentary, from which this film has taken it’s lead undoubtedly burned
into our cultural lexicon the legend of The Beales, well then imagine what it’ll do for
these two leading ladies. As they say, the rest is history, but this in of itself was history
and as “Big Edie” would famously comment: “It’s all in the movie.”
Rarely does a small art film offering the likes of Grey Gardens which will only have it’s
run on cable television and not grace the panoramic interiors of a cinema