Movie: The Queen of
My Rating: 3 stars
I’m not quite sure why I wanted to see this movie. This is a documentary that investigates the lavish lifestyle of timeshare billionaires David and Jackie Siegel. It was meant to capture all the ridiculous details of their new personal real estate project—Versailles (designed after the Paris casino in Las Vegas)—which was set to have been have been the largest personal residence in existence. But unexpectedly, the cameras were also there to catch the beginning of the decline of their vast empire as credit dried up during the economic crisis of a few years ago. Surely I’m not the kind of monster that relishes watching people go through personal misfortune. And, I've never been particularly driven by schadenfreude. But, Jackie Siegel, the woman who is the central focus of this documentary is so strange and foreign to me that perhaps the impulse is similar to that of people who enjoy seeing exotic creatures at the zoo. Because, that woman really is something else.
This really is a documentary about Jackie more than anything else. Who knows if it started off that way, but she loves the attention of a camera so much, that she’s strutting and preening through almost every frame. She’s at her full glory for most of the time too—short shorts, furry vests, five inch heels, lip gloss and crystals covering everything. This is a lady who like things gilded. And, the more cherubs ornamenting her living space, the better! There’s a whole “subplot” in this documentary about the timeshare business and how precarious it’s become financially, and how unconscionable the marketing practices are, but that wasn't the most compelling part of this story. I was most interested in watching this billionaire glamazon with trailer trash taste, strut around in her natural habitat. And, that habitat would be in a stretch limo at the McDonald's drive-through with eight little , white dogs in her lap. Contradictions at every turn! And, it’s fascinating—mostly because I don’t know anyone like this in real life.
Ultimately this is a story about two people who are way too overextended in all areas of their lives—business, house, staff, family, pets, babies. They've got way more of each of these things than they can handle. It’s the lifestyle where when you get tired of your current toy, just shove it to the side and get a newer, fresher model. You don’t even have to bother with throwing the old one away. The metaphorical corners of their lives are practically littered with old spouses, old mortgages, old dogs, kids that aren’t quite as cute as they were when they were three years old. So many loose ends! It boggles the mind. Of course, it’s a shame when any family has to go through a period of financial hardship. And, that part of this story is pretty unpleasant. But, it’s also a sobering reminder for us regular people to live within our means. I think this movie is definitely worth a look. It’s probably not worth going out of your way for, but it’s got some interesting points if you’re interested.