Despite receiving widespread critical acclaim (and multiple industry awards for director Lauren Greenfield), The Queen of Versailles, did not make the list of Academy Award nominees for Best Documentary. But rest easily, Versailles aficionados, for while it may not have an Oscar nomination on its resume, it has something those other nominees do not:
It has a shout-out on the ACPL blog.
The Queen of Versailles is a movie that owes its existence, in part, to serendipity. Greenfield originally set out to film billionaire businessman David Siegel and his wife, Jackie, as they built America’s largest privately-owned house. But the recession threatens to collapse Siegel’s timeshare empire, and Greenfield’s cameras ultimately capture the hubris surrounding the collapse of both the Siegels’ business and their way of life.
I struggle to describe this movie to others; it has elements of the absurd, but it’s not really a comedy. There is a certain pathos to it, but it’s not a tragedy. And while the Siegel family may seem so far removed from the average American as to be otherworldly, it’s most definitely not science fiction. Versailles proves the old adage that truth is indeed stranger than fiction – and often a good deal more entertaining. Exasperating, funny, and sad (often at the same time), Versailles serves up a delicious serving of schadenfreude even as it makes you feel guilty for indulging.
Long after the credits rolled, my mind kept returning to The Queen of Versailles, examining it from different angles. What did it say about capitalism? The American Dream? Marriage and families? What did my reactions to the movie say about me?
And perhaps most perplexing: who could possibly need a house with 35 bathrooms?