Emily’s review published on Letterboxd:
Film School Drop Outs - Weekly Challenge 2018
Week 29 - Genre - Documentary - Direct Cinema
Tragedy and comedy really are two sides of the same coin though it's unclear on which side the makers of this documentary wanted Grey Gardens to fall. The latter would make for even more uncomfortable viewing, and that's saying something considering the bizarre, chaotic energy which this film radiates at all times. It's understandable that other reviewers have liberally used the word 'exploitative' to describe this documentary as there are some very real questions about what exactly is being documented; the decline and fall of the American upper classes and their delusions of grandeur, the ways in which we create our own realities when left to isolation? Or is it rather a sad and insensitive portrait of mental illness and decay designed to evoke laughter and pity?
It's truly difficult for me to decide on which of these interpretations is most likely. Whilst the film itself is technically well crafted, my scepticism over the treatment of its subjects makes it difficult for me to fully appreciate.