The Queen of Versailles

The Queen of Versailles

A character-driven documentary about a billionaire family and their financial challenges in the wake of the economic crisis. With epic proportions of Shakespearean tragedy, the film follows two unique characters, whose rags-to-riches success stories reveal the innate virtues and flaws of the American Dream. The film begins with the family triumphantly constructing the biggest house in America, a 90,000 sq. ft. palace. Over the next two years, their sprawling empire, fueled by the real estate bubble and cheap money, falters due to the economic crisis. Major changes in lifestyle and character ensue within the cross-cultural household of family members and domestic staff. 4.0 out of 5 based on 12 reviews
The Queen of Versailles

Omniscore:

Certificate
Genre Documentary
Director Lauren Greenfield
Cast Jackie Siegel, David Siegel, Virginia Nebab
Studio Dogwoof
Release Date September 2012
Running Time 100 mins
 

A character-driven documentary about a billionaire family and their financial challenges in the wake of the economic crisis. With epic proportions of Shakespearean tragedy, the film follows two unique characters, whose rags-to-riches success stories reveal the innate virtues and flaws of the American Dream. The film begins with the family triumphantly constructing the biggest house in America, a 90,000 sq. ft. palace. Over the next two years, their sprawling empire, fueled by the real estate bubble and cheap money, falters due to the economic crisis. Major changes in lifestyle and character ensue within the cross-cultural household of family members and domestic staff.

Reviews

Empire Magazine

Philip Wilding

A bizarre and mesmerising journey to the heart of Cloud Cuckoo Land.

04/09/2012

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The Guardian

Steve Rose

Dog turds accumulate, pets die from starvation, tempers fray, and the Siegels' dream lifestyle becomes The Osbournes without the rock'n'roll. The satire barely needs underlining, but it's impossible not to feel some empathy. Especially for Jackie, who goes from consumerist airhead to vaguely humbled matriarch without losing her unguarded good cheer. Beyond the schadenfreude, the film suggests that the Siegels are only an extreme example of the aspirational, beyond-your-means lifestyle we all share.

06/09/2012

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The Independent

Anthony Quinn

The story has no neat ending – David is suing Greenfield for defamation of character, and surely stands no chance – but as a report on consumerism gone mad it's hard to beat.

07/09/2012

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The Los Angeles Times

Sheri Linden

It would be easy to mock their version of hard times, but Greenfield, who filmed the Siegels over a three-year period, is an astute and assiduous observer. What might have been mere reality-TV fodder about hissable symbols of overconsumption turns out to be a three-dimensional study of a marriage. It's also a timely look at the middle-class American Dream on hyperdrive: aspire, acquire, arrive and then try to keep the "good life" going.

19/07/2012

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The New Statesman

Ryan Gilbey

Siegel is currently suing the film-makers: despite describing his own trajectory on screen as “riches-to-rags”, he has decided that the movie is defamatory. I think he should thank Greenfield for insisting throughout that her subjects are human and vulnerable, and for producing a downfall story that registers only a negligible score on the Schadenfreude scale.

05/09/2012

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The New York Times

A. O. Scott

A gaudy guilty pleasure that is also a piece of trenchant social criticism, the movie starts out in the mode of reality television, resembling the pilot for a new “Real Housewives” franchise or a reboot of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Before long, though, it takes on the coloration of a Theodore Dreiser novel — not quite an American tragedy but a sprawling, richly detailed study of ambition, desire and the wild swings of fortune that are included in the price of the capitalist ticket.

19/07/2012

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The Daily Telegraph

David Gritten

As the Siegels’ fortunes unravel, the film becomes the equivalent of car-crash TV: it’s impossible to avert one’s gaze.

06/09/2012

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Time Out

Cath Clarke

As Rome burns, Jackie gets botox. I have to confess to liking her. She’s funny and warm. You could almost be sucked into feeling sorry for her but for director Lauren Greenfield reminding us how the other half live – interviewing the Siegels’ Filipino nanny who hasn’t seen her own son in 11 years. Truth is, Jackie could sell a few pairs of $17,000 Gucci boots on eBay and be richer than most of us. As for this doc, it’s priceless.

05/09/2012

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The Times

Kate Muir

A scene at a post-crash Christmas when Jackie buys a bike for her son, only to discover her garage is full of brand new kids’ bikes, is squirmingly awful.

07/09/2012

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Total Film

Neil Smith

It's perfectly possible to like the title character of Lauren Greenfield’s documentary – Jackie Siegel, the trophy wife of a time-share mogul with plans to build America’s largest private home in Florida – while detesting everything she represents: grotesque financial inequality, jaw-dropping ignorance and appalling bad taste

27/08/2012

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The Observer

Philip French

Blaming the banks for tempting them with "cheap money", the Siegels appear to have learnt little from this experience about capitalism, greed and vanity. Nor do they see their dream house as a symbol, as vivid as Kane's Xanadu or Ozymandias's decaying statue, for their version of the American dream or the dark side of the free enterprise system.

09/09/2012

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The Sunday Times

Edward Porter

The chance to see how the super-rich live is what initially draws you in, but before long you’re intrigued by Jackie’s odd mixture of stupidity and good sense, and wondering what will become of the couple’s marriage. It’s a fantastic human-interest story.

09/09/2012

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