The Queen of Versailles

Director: Lauren Greenfield
Year Released: 2012
Rating: 3.0

Greenfield looks into the lives of one of the richest men in America, David Siegel the Time-Share Despot, his charming wife Jackie and family of eight children (!) over the course of two years, and how his hubris - building a tower in Vegas and trying to build the largest house in the United States - catches up with him. Though Greenfield's approach (and aesthetics) uncomfortably echo baseline reality TV programs (hear me groan), I feel she successfully balances disdain and warmth for the Siegel family, showing them be simultaneously considerate (particularly Jackie's helping out an old friend) and unbelievably out-of-touch (asking the worker at Hertz the name of her driver). The crusty nastiness of David (who brags he helped get George Bush elected ... and then laments it may have not been for the best) goes nicely with the down-home friendliness of Jackie (she really loves all her kids) - though it never lets you forget what a grotesque spendthrift she is - and when financial troubles hit and David becomes a stressed out grump, Jackie keeps her head up: she knows what it means to have nothing, and when she says she can live a 'normal' life (without the millions), you can tell she wants to believe it.