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The Queen of Versailles

NBC Universal summer press day - in this photo Jackie Siegel
NBC Universal summer press day – in this photo Jackie Siegel

Out of touch with reality

By Valerie Milano

Hollywood, CA (The Hollywood Times) 5/1/13 – “..the moral of the movie was to live within your means, and my husband actually learned to live within his means.  And one thing great about this movie is it shows how the economy affected different levels of people from a minimum wage to middle income to the upper class.  And I think that’s why it touched so many – it has captured so much interest from people” states Jackie Siegel in a recent interview with THT and other reporters during the NBC Summer Press Day. However, we welcome you to another edition of lifestyles of the rich, annoying, and entirely self-centered. This documentary tells the story of Jackie and David Siegel over the course of 2 years, from their financial high through the economic downturn of 2009 and the aftermath. I’d heard good things about this documentary so I was really looking forward to it. However, at 20 minutes into the show, I wanted to throw my remote at the television. 

While this film did win the U.S. Directing Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival it is two hours of stunning vapidity and self-serving drivel. The family appears to be every bad stereotype of the “nouveau riche” wrapped in a shiny bow. I’ll give props to the filmmaker, Lauren Greenfield, for getting deep into the mindset of a family as they suffer serious monetary setbacks for this is what the story is truly about however, this is a no-holds-barred look at the life of a family who’s completely out of touch with reality. The entire family is non-empathetic and lives in the cloud of the super rich – and although Jackie seems to think she is actually “in touch” with America they have no idea how most of America lives today.

My favorite moment was when David Siegel, who was the king of timeshares, discusses his manipulative strategy to sell timeshares to his customers. It was full of sexist stereotypes and all the reasons why one might hate timeshares. Immediately after his description, he spoke about how he’s good for the people in his life like his family and employees.

Documentary filmmaker, Lauren Greenfield, said during the same interview, “…when we started the project, some people didn’t understand why I was making a feature-length film about David and Jackie and their journey of building the biggest house in America.  I think, as the film developed, it was clear that it became, really, a film about the American dream and the financial crisis.  And their story really became an allegory of the overreaching of America and the mistakes that were made on all levels.” As Siegel’s business goes south his family has to try to sell their unfinished dream home.  They have to “economize” by flying commercial.

For those who have been through economic hardship, wondering whether or not they would still have a home, or whether they would be able to find a job, the plights of the super-rich, even if they lost millions, is hard to sympathize with. The documentary itself is relatively well done.  I give it an 8 for creativity, however the subjects of this film are so irritating, that, had I not been reviewing it, I would have turned it off 20 minutes into it.  Take that for what it’s worth.

The Queen of Versailles made its TV debut on Bravo on Monday, April 29 at 9pm

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