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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Queen of Versailles - Review (2012)

Meet Virgina Siegel, a former beauty queen with a hoarding problem, who just happens to be married to one of the richest men in the country.  She enjoys the little things in life, namely here 90,000 square foot home designed after the Palace of Versailles which she has filled with every luxury item and impulse purchase known to man.  Her children are hand delivered everything they could possibly want, or not want - sometimes multiples.  At the same time their servants are holed up in dorm size living quarters.  Every stop at Costco ends with truck loads of loot, more than enough items to provide for a family, better yet a football team.  What's not to like?  Is this the American Dream or the American Nightmare.

It is impossible to not be bowled over by the money spent and the junk acquired.  The wealth on display here is absolutely shocking.  Be it luxurious or gaudy it can be found in the walls of the humble abode.  I am sure many people will secretly or openly be waiting for a wake up call, something to shake these people to the core and hopefully change their ways.  No sooner than you can close your eyes and make the wish, it happens, the economic meltdown of 2008.  A global economic crisis that took the housing market tumbling, bringing the Seigel family to their knees.  The irony is, the same economy that provided them the finances to build their "palace," was inflated by selling property to people that could not afford it.  What destroyed the economy and threatened to take away their massive estate was people defaulting on loans that they pushed on others.
What surprised me was, when it the meltdown does occur it is not the moment of joy that you may have hoped for.  The threat of financial failure does something magical, it strips through the materialism and reveals that there are humans underneath.  Is this change permanent or temporary?  Either way it does allow us to relate and feel some compassion for this family in turmoil.  It is tough at times, like the scene where the mother fears she will have to tell her kids they may one day need to go to college to earn their own money.  Some people pray they will one day be able to go to college and this family fears it.  Oh brother.

You may enjoy their tales of  riches and lavish loving, or watching their fall from grace (you sick person) or just witnessing their infuriating disconnect from reality.  Anyway you watch it be it as a character study or a cautionary tale, it is quite an interesting tale, an American tale.

7.5 out of 10

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