Maybe all art is derivative. But sometimes, rarely, after what genius hath wrought filters down through a few generations of American culture, the inevitable spawn, so often a diluted bastard of its inspiration, actually beats the original at its own game.
HBO's Grey Gardens
, the anticipated bio pic of Edith "Big Edie"
Ewing Bouvier Beale and Edith "Little Edie"
Bouvier Beale, accomplishes just that rare feat. The source material in this case is the groundbreaking 1975 documentary of the same name
by Albert and David Maysles
, filmed during a particularly hot summer at Grey Gardens, the Beales' derelict family estate in East Hampton, New York.
The release of the grainy film, which examines the once haute, now absent-mindedly squalid lives of an eccentric, but still bitingly observant mother and daughter, announced a brash new approach to what was then called cinéma vérité
, and brought a cult following to the Edies, who were no less fascinating in 1975 for being the forgotten Bouvier relatives of Jacqueline Kennedy
After all these years, and all of the flies on the wall it inspired, we continue to rubberneck at the Maysleses' documentary
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