THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES (Lauren Greenfield). 100 minutes. Opens Friday (August 3). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NNNNN
Lauren Greenfield's brilliant doc begins as a look at conspicuous consumption, then evolves into something that plays with our sympathies.
Jackie Siegel is a buxom 40-something former beauty queen raising seven children with her septuagenarian husband, David Siegel, owner of a multi-million-dollar time-share business.
When we first meet them, they're constructing a 90,000-square-foot estate modelled on Versailles. Then the economic crisis hits and their empire and home life begin to crumble.
Filming over three years, Greenfield captures remarkable moments - everything from manipulative real estate pitch sessions to shopping sprees - and talks with the Siegels' overworked, clearly exploited employees.
A former photographer, Greenfield has a great eye for the telling detail, like the shit left behind by the family's various animals, or the eerie embryo of the half-completed mansion.
Jackie is a completely compelling character, bust-revealing outfits and all: smart, generous, addicted to shopping and - as much as we might be skeptical - totally in love with a man who once joked that when she turned 40 he'd replace her with two 20-year-olds.