S-T-A-U-N-C-H

drew_barrymore_jessica_lange_grey_gardens_hbo_adaptation

Ladies: Get out your Revolutionary Costumes.

The promo for HBO’s Grey Gardens has been released. And what’s more, it looks great.

I’m sure that some die-hard Grey Gardens fans will have problems with the film, which is not a remake of the documentary, but rather goes back in time and tells the story of how Big Edie and Little Edie went from rich, regal elites to living in a condemned home. But I’m on board.

Don’t get this confused with the musical, which does goes back to the ’40s in the first act to set up the relationship between Little Edie and her mother. The HBO production is a separate piece, though I’m sure the musical served as an influence.

I saw Grey Gardens last year, in preparation for seeing the play. Before that, I knew it as a great song by Rufus Wainwright, as well as the movie Lorelai and Rory are watching in A Deep Fried Korean Thanksgiving (one of my favorite episodes of Gilmore Girls).

I’m not going to lie – I was horrified. The film is so cacophonous, so busy, so dirty. I got angry at Albert Maysles for exploiting these women. I wondered why no one had saved them, why Maysles thought this would be a good idea for a documentary. These women were crazy, and people just let a film crew into the house?

Then I saw the musical.

It’s not perfect; at least not the version I saw. The first act dragged, the actress playing Young Little Edie was lackluster, and the music was kind of uninspiring. But the second act, the second act just broke my heart. It takes place in 1975, and is basically a theatrical adaptation of the documentary. Many of the lines come straight from the film, and the music is much, much better. By the end of the show, everyone was crying.

And therein lies the paradox of the musical: The second act is so powerful, yet you need Act I as a set up. But maybe that’s just me. The show did okay for itself – it ran for almost a year on Broadway, won three Tonys and was nominated for Best Musical.

For me, the musical was much easier to watch, partly because I knew what to expect, having seen the documentary days before, but mostly because I was watching two actors and not actual people. There was distance. And though I knew they were playing characters based on real women, it wasn’t real. I could laugh at Little Edie’s ramblings, and Big Edie’s ballad about corn.

Ever since seeing the musical, a little part of me has understood the obsession with the documentary and with these women. I don’t think I could sit through it again, but I am anxious to see the HBO production. From the trailer, it looks like they go even further in speculation than the musical. Somehow, this makes it even less real for me, and therefore, easier to watch.

Check it out. Does HBO know how to make a trailer or what? I can’t wait till April 18th.

I’m tearing up already. Also, can you believe that’s Jessica Lange under all that make up? Wow.

Video of the Day:“It’s the most disgusting, atrocious thing ever to happen in America.” Here’s a little taste of the musical – this is the song that opens Act II. Da da da da dum.

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One thought on “S-T-A-U-N-C-H

  1. I watched it! And…wow. That DOES look awesome, because since when does Drew Barrymore have the range to channel Little Edie like that? I didn’t think she had it in her. But she’s got the voice and everything.

    Yay.

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