Can't Look Away: The Queen Of Versailles Documents The 1%

What is it with the 1%? Regardless of how we feel about them, America can't seem to get enough voyeurism when it comes to their over-the-top lifestyle. A new documentary is trying to give those faceless moneybags a bit of personality as it documents the rise and fall of David Siegel, resort mogul and husband to Jackie, an engineering student turned trophy wife 30 years his junior. The Queen of Versailles tracks Jackie's opulence and ignorance through the financial crisis that puts a stop to the construction of their Florida mansion, which includes 23 bathrooms, 13 bedrooms, and one bowling alley. It's the biggest house in America and the most concrete representation of excess sharply curtailed by the financial crises of the last decade.
The relationship between the film's primary subject, Jackie, and filmmaker Lauren Greenfield is an odd one, to say the least. Greenfield is a professional documentarist whose past work has leaned more in the direction of social change than reality television. Mr. Siegel has even filed a defamation lawsuit against her, but the film still made it to theaters, with a limited release in NYC and L.A. Unless this trailer forgot to include a long sequence on charity work and general humbleness, Jackie is just about exactly what you might expect: as excessive in spending as she is unaware of her husband's crippling financial problems. In fact, she says she'll have to watch the movie to find out what's going on with the family fortune.
Watch the trailer below, then head over to The Hairpin to read the director's interview about this oddly captivating film that spans genres from pure guilty pleasure to heartfelt social commentary. Greenfield says she hoped the film would offer a rare "true" representation of the wealthy, a social group that usually maintains tight control over its image. (The Hairpin)
We're definitely buying tickets, but we're wondering: Can this documentary humanize the 1%?
Photo: Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

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