The Queen of Versailles (2012)
August 24, 2022 10:20 AM - Subscribe

The 2008 global economic crisis threatens the fortune of Florida billionaires David and Jackie Siegel just as they are in the middle of building a 90,000 square-foot estate.

Directed by Lauren Greenfield.

95% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently streaming in the US on Amazon Prime, Hoopla, Kanopy, Mubi, and Magnolia Selects. Also available for digital rental on various outlets. JustWatch listing.

The Siegels, shown here in a deft mix of unspoken satire/condemnation and humanizing empathy, have since premiered a reality show on Discovery+, because everything is terrible.
posted by DirtyOldTown (5 comments total)
Lauren Greenfield has made a whole career of observing rich people. I am uncomfortable with a lot of her work, but I think that's a sign that it's actually pretty good work. She did a photography book called Girl Culture that I owned but eventually had to get rid of - some of the photos were just unsettlingly intimate. A teen shaving her arms in her front yard.

This movie was also uncomfortable. I vividly recall the death of the large snake, and that nobody in the house understood that if the maid didn't feed the animals, someone else would have to.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 10:43 AM on August 24, 2022

It would be kind of weird to look back on this from ten years later, and not just because they're clearly no longer the worst real estate people with the ugliest mega-estate in Florida. The schadenfreude was intense, but the Siegels seem to have at least partially recovered financially, and work on the house (which is still butt-ugly) seems to have resumed. I don't remember if or how much their daughter Victoria featured in the docco, but it would be pretty uncomfortable to see her now since she died of a drug overdose in 2015.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:55 AM on August 24, 2022

I can't remember if I finished this, but at the same time I'm not sure what the point would be. They are just uniformly unpleasant people. If anything positive, it's an indictment of US-style capitalism.

95% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Yeah maybe I just don't get it.
posted by rhizome at 5:01 PM on August 24, 2022

I think what's impressive about this one to me is that the film manages to have it both ways. It takes a fairly unforgiving, stone-faced look at the Siegels as they make lunkheaded rich people assholes out of themselves. But it also finds them at their most human, so that they can serve as a funhouse mirror to the financial insecurity that was cutting through the lives of regular Americans at the time.

It's a helluva trick to leverage our contempt and sympathy for the same people.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:44 AM on August 25, 2022 [3 favorites]

One of the things that made me angry in this movie was the hard sell of the Vegas condos. Ordinary working people bedazzled by the bright lights of Las Vegas being shown beautiful 4-bed penthouses with terraces overlooking the Strip and then pressurised into signing there and then - one-time only offer! - for a tiny one-bed shoebox on a lower floor where the view was of the dumpsters at the back of the fast-food restaurant next door.

I remember quite a few years ago I (F) was in Vegas with a friend (M). We'd gone down to the hotel lobby on our way out and I needed to stop off at the bathroom. He waited next to the stands where the timeshare salesmen were. They ignored him, a guy on his own. But as soon as I re-joined him and it looked to them as if we were a couple (we're not), they pounced, offering us tickets for Blue Man Group, Wayne Newton (who the fuck is he?), Cirque du Soleil, etc. if we'd attend a presentation. Fuck those people.

Also the animal cruelty in the movie. Fuck those people too.
posted by essexjan at 6:31 AM on August 26, 2022

« Older Evil: Season Three...   |  Agatha Christie's Poirot: Mrs ... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments