Paul Malikkal

Review

Grey Gardens (1975)

Paul Malikkal

“This is a sea of leaves. Complete sea of leaves. If you lose something, you can’t find it again. It drops to the bottom. I lost my scarf. I’ll never get it again. Best scarf I ever owned.” - Little Edie

This feels like a retelling of Great Expectations, that omits Pip completely and focuses solely on the day-in-day-out lives of Estella and Miss Havisham.

While I adored it, I do feel the film’s fundamental objective— to depict the lives of two women who are, I think it’s fair to say, suffering from mental illness to some degree— may be exploitative. Even if a mentally ill individual consents to being on camera, does that mean we have the right to capture them being totally uninhibited when they technically aren’t choosing to be uninhibited? When their mental illness precludes their self-awareness? But would it be better that the film didn’t exist and the two Edies never had the chance to share their tragic tale with the world? I don’t know. But I hope I can entertain these reservations while also being utterly captivated by the strange, sad little world of Grey Gardens.

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