Monday, January 28, 2013

“The Queen of Versailles”: A King-sized Slice of Reality

Astonishingly enough, while the gluttony and arrogance of America’s 1% cannot be justified, it can be explained.  In the documentary, “The Queen of Versailles,” it becomes evident that the filthy rich are painfully oblivious and permanently lost in their own pink play land.  Even though it is easy (and delightful) to snigger at the pathetic Botoxed-Barbie and protagonist in the documentary, the director, Lauren Greenfield, makes it unfortunately difficult to scorn Mrs. Siegel and her lavish lifestyle.

Now, let’s not get too upset, Greenfield’s exposure of Mr. and Mrs. Siegel’s absurd self portrait, a spray-tanned bronze couple perched on top of a noble steed, does merit some snickering, but the director creates a well-balanced, to the point of neutrality, portrayal of the former billionaire David Siegel and his family.

Greenfield, like the warriors straddling their horse, set out on no small feat:  David Siegel is the founder and CEO of Westgate Resorts and most importantly the owner of the “brightest sign on the strip” in Las Vegas.  His spouse, Jackie, can easily be branded as a trophy wife, yet such a remark would be mildly wrong.

Despite the Siegel’s affection for taxidermy, their deceased pooches are showcased throughout the house, Greenfield hints to the viewer that this lavish lifestyle is not all it is powdered up to be.  Their house is littered with “doggie ca-ca” and crammed with expensive junk, Mrs. Siegel’s compulsive behavior is clearly masking a deeper social disorder, and Mr. Siegel is practically wasting away on the camera during the Great Recession, he even gains the humility to confess “nothing makes [him] happy these days.”       

Greenfield’s all-inclusive devotion to depict every pore of the Siegel life provides the audience with an exclusive insight to the hidden blemishes of a world that is commonly overlooked or falsely labeled.   In a society mind-controlled by image, money, and lip-‘stick’ models, it is amusing to observe the zombies lost under media’s trance.  Come on, no one with common sense would make a bet of $10,000 on some mundane fact dispute, or build the biggest house in America because “[he] can.”

There is no doubt that the hoity-toity snobs are ridiculous, like the Siegel limousine in a MacDonald’s drive-thru.  Yet, Greenfield ventures beyond a pragmatic approach and enlightens the viewer that the rich are capable of genuine reflection and perhaps worthy of empathy—well pity—as they mosey through life like vulnerable, fluffy white bunnies.

1 comment:

  1. Your points are great.

    I would just tighten some parts. Your second paragraph, for instance, uses a lot of commas that chops up the flow. It makes it harder to follow the content.

    In the same paragraph: I would also refrain from using "let's," since it's a first person plural imperative.

    When you describe Jackie as a trophy wife I think what would make the sentence even stronger is describing her as a trophy wife through the eyes of her daughter (I forget the name, but it was the 12 year old girl who told David he "was being rude" in the previous scene).

    Good "but" (hehehe). Perhaps replace the "white bunnies" at the end with "white pomeranians," as it would echo a detail in you included earlier in the review.