The squalid yet strangely uplifting story of the Beales–the mother/daughter duo who went from being Jackie Kennedy’s fancy shmancy cousins to living in filth in a decayed Hamptons mansion filled with raccoons–rises again. The original Maysles brothers’ documentary was made into a musical, which was then the subject of another documentary, and now it’s an HBO movie starring Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore as the two generations of wackiness whose willingness to expose their squandered show biz aspirations afforded them a whole new chance to claw at the spotlight.
Malcolm Gets–whom I interview in the next column regarding his role in the risky Broadway musical The Story of My Life–plays accompanist George Gould in the film and told me what he knows about it: It doesn’t recreate the documentary, it starts with the making of it, with actors playing the Maysles brothers, who became captivated with the two Edies while doing a proposed documentary commissioned by Lee Radzwill. It then goes back and tells the Beales’ story, using actors like Jeanne Tripplehorn as Jackie O and Daniel Baldwin as little Edie’s main squeeze Julius Krug, the characters serving as traffic guards on the boulevard of broken dreams.
I feel like I’ve probably seen enough of these two riveting nutjobs to last several lifetimes, but Gets assures me that the performances seem spot-on, the result of a full year of research and dialect coaching and presumably turban fitting. Jessica Lange, he said, “is so gutsy, she forces you to go with her.”
So before you say “feh,” let’s put on our revolutionary costumes and go to Grey Gardens one more time. The cat food is divine!