Grey Gardens (2009)

Grey Gardens HBO DVD

HBO Films
 Jessica Lange, Drew Barrymore, Jeanne Tripplehorn
Directed by: Michael Sucsy

Cat Out of the Bag Alert!  This review contains some spoilers for this film!

Synopsis: The story behind Edith Bouvier Beale (Jessica Lange) and her daughter, Edith ‘Little Edie’ Bouvier Beale (Drew Barrymore) who were the subject of the documentary Grey Gardens by the Maysles filmed at their dilapidated home.

Cat Cattle Call: Cats were a major presence in the home of Edith and Edie, as seen in the original documentary, and are certainly a presence in this dramatic look at their lives and how they came to live a hoarder’s existence at Grey Gardens.

Grey Gardens HBO - Edith with cats on bed

Grey Gardens HBO - Edie with cat sitting behind her on bed

The filmmakers and actors did an incredible job of representing these women and their disorganized lives.  The cats are present in the scenes which are recreated from the documentary itself.

Grey Gardens HBO - Edie with cat

The women’s early lives are also portrayed and we see Edith as her hoarding tendencies begin.  When she coerces Edie to come home she hovers over a box of kittens, commenting on how much fun it would be to breed them.

Grey Gardens HBO - Edith with kitten

Grey Gardens HBO - Edie with kitten

The cats are seen in squallor when the building inspectors finally enter the house and are shocked at the deplorable conditions within.

Grey Gardens HBO - tabby cat seen in filth

Some sections of the documentary are reimagined for the film, such as when Jackie Kennedy (Jeanne Tripplehorn) enters the home to see one of the cats peeing behind Edith’s portrait.

Grey Gardens HBO - tuxedo cat peeing behind portrait

Near the end of the film when the Maysles have suggested that Edith and Edie attend the premiere, Edie and her mother have a fight and Edie storms out of the house.  When she returns she finds Whiskers, her mother’s current favorite cat that went missing, outside.

Grey Gardens HBO - Edie finds Whiskers cat

Edie brings Whiskers to Edith, who is so happy to see the cat and her daughter.

Grey Gardens HBO - Edie gives Whiskers cat to Edith

The cat actors were all closely monitored and kept safe on this film, many of them attached to monofilament lines to keep them in place or to restrict them to a certain area.  The actors were all taught how to properly handle the cat actors and the sets were all enclosed.

Grey Gardens HBO - Edith holding up tabby cat

Final Mewsings: If you love cats, please don’t hoarde them.

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