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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Families can hurt each other in many ways. Yet, though this movie mines this theme, the bond between Little Edie and Big Edie is palpable. Blood truly is thicker than water, for good or bad.
Positive Role Models
It's important to note that film documents a different time, when fathers talk about needing to marry off their daughters so they don't have to support them anymore, so there's some of that here. Little Edie's parents are distant with each other, and they're sometimes cruel to her.
Violence & Scariness
No physical fights, but a couple does argue, and the hostility pierces.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A married woman carries on with a much younger man, though they're not shown trysting. There appears to be a chilly understanding between her and her husband. A young woman also has an affair with a married man, a liaison others frown upon; later, he heartlessly breaks up with her. The same person also has other relationships that don't appear to be good for her. Some kissing, and a couple is shown dressed but in bed.
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Products & Purchases
Some name-dropping of the Bouviers and the Maidstone Club, but nothing that stands out. One character appears unaware of her spending.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Main character is an alcoholic. Lots of social drinking and smoking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this drama follows the sad tale of a co-dependent mother and daughter living in squalor in 1970s Hamptons, and the decades leading up to it. Though there's no violence or nudity, it's sometimes painful to watch, especially knowing it's based on real people. Though it's rated PG, its tragic themes may not appeal to tween audiences and younger. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
It is tough to top the intrigue and charisma of the real-life Edies, but Barrymore and Lange give it their best shot. Lange is especially appealing when she croons, as Big Edie was wont to do at parties before she turned recluse. The contrast before and after is heartbreakingly stark. Barrymore captures Little Edie's peculiarities, especially in the later years, and exhibits pathos we rarely see from her. But her accent: off-base. The two of them together, however, are a force.
More pluses: The costumes are gorgeous without appearing too costume-y -- the dresses are especially yummy -- and, notwithstanding the Beales' decaying mansion later in the film, the Hamptons have never looked more beautiful. Scenes that mimic the Maysles' footage are amazing near-facsimiles. But, and this is a considerable but: What made the Maysles' film so powerful is the way it peeled off Big and Little Edie's layers so that as each stratum fell, our sense of wonder and horror crescendoed to a deafening awe. Here, anger that fossilized into despair and near-madness -- the house they lived in was cat- and raccoon-filled and decrepit -- is reduced to folly.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.