Film review

The Queen Of Versailles

The Queen Of Versailles

The Queen Of Versailles introduces us to David and Jackie Siegel, an American family struggling to cope in the aftermath of the global recession. David, 73, is the founder, CEO and president of Westgate Resorts – “the largest privately owned timeshare company in the world”. As Lauren Greenfield’s brilliant documentary opens, 43-year-old Jackie is hands-on in the family’s plans to build the largest single family home in America – including 10 kitchens and a full-sized baseball field, its façade modelled on the palace at Versailles, or “ver-sizes” as one real estate agent calls it.

It is hard to feel sympathy for these people as the crash of 2008 hits – this is wealth without finesse, while the operating procedures of David’s employees is questionable, and Jackie’s love of shopping seems to have a higher priority than, say, looking after their eight children. The meat of Greenfield’s film comes post-crash, as David’s creditors circle, the domestic staff are cut back from 19 to a mere 4, and Jackie is forced to travel by commercial airline. Jackie emerges as an unlikely star. How will she cope? When she rents a car from Hertz, she asks the man behind the desk the name of her driver. Unfed, pets are dying. Yet, perhaps because of her colossal lack of understanding about the real world (and her husband’s business affairs), the ditzy, surgically enhanced Jackie remains optimistic throughout.
Michael Bonner

Rating: 8 / 10

Opens September 7 // Cert PG


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