Released: 1st September 2012
Director: Lauren Greenfield
Stars:Jackie Siegel, David Siegel
Premièred at Sundance 2012, Queen of Versailles documents the life of David and Jackie Siegel during the construction of their Versailles themed mansion. During the two year time period, we see David’s time-share and real estate Empire crumble during the American recession.
In truth the premise of the film didn’t appeal to this reviewer at first. Even more so considering it was a documentary! Judging a book by its cover was the worst thing I could have done, The Queen of Versailles turns out to be so much more than just a documentary about rich people.
The film focuses on Jackie, whose extortionate lifestyle is bankrolled by David’s business, however when the real estate market falters, she must come to terms with the fact their dream home may not become a reality.
Director Lauren Greenfield couldn’t have predicted her ‘luck’ when her documentary based on living in excess took a dramatic turn due to the economic downturn. Instead of filming Jackie’s over the top spending, Greenfield found herself recording how the family are affected by the plummeting business in which their fortune lies.
Access within the Siegel household allows us an intimate look at the trials and tribulations Jackie faces in her current predicament. However, whilst they may be serious concerns, there are genuine moments of hilarity, albeit by accident, the ironic humour that can be found in what can only be described as the families ignorance due to their previous comfort.
We are witness to moments of joy as well as moments of misery and it’s this bittersweet style of filmmaking that really sucks the audience in. The Queen of Versailles is hilarious and even heart-warming at times, a harsh reality as to how the American dream can become an American nightmare.