Another Day In “Grey Gardens”

cess_barrymore_12_vIt could have been worse, I suppose. I’m speaking of the latest installment in the “Grey Gardens” enterprise, an HBO film with Drew Barrymore (pictured) and Jessica Lange that premieres April 18. The full-length trailer (as well as an excerpt from the 1975 documentary that started the craze) is in circulation, and it demonstrates what I always feared was in the cards: with each incarnation, this material becomes less human, more camp. That’s not to say that Jessica (elder Edie Beale, aunt of Jackie O.) and Drew (younger E.B., Jackie’s cousin) don’t do their damndest to make this material come to life. Jessica in particular gives an impersonation that is eerily good. Drew, swathed in scarves to cover the character’s hair loss, is trying much too hard to nail Edie Jr.’s inflections, a problem which bothered me a lot less when phrases like “staunch character” emanated from Christine Ebersole in the 2005 Broadway-musical version. Like “Mame,” another real-life story with multiple interpretations and myriad headgear, “Grey Gardens” is fairly well indestructible. But that doesn’t mean it’s always enjoyable. I’ll reserve final judgement until HBO airs the whole kit and caboodle.

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