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Parents' Guide to

Grey Gardens

By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Drew Barrymore/HBO biopic with adult themes, alcoholism.

Movie NR 2009 104 minutes
Grey Gardens Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 1 parent review

age 11+

HBO means great cinema.

Had Grey Gardens been released theatrically, it would have garnered Oscar nominations for both its stars. Drew Barrymore is at the top of her game as" Little" Edie, and Jessica Lange is phenomenal as her mother, "Big" Edie. A little sex, not very foul language, but lots of drinking and smoking. Kids may need a little historical context before, or after watching it.

This title has:

Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

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.

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