Dammit. Now I have to respect Drew Barrymore as an artist.
What a touching, realistic and thoroughly-researched performance! Wow. Awards showered upon her, please. While touches of that trademark Drew drawl slipped out every now and then (the sloppy S’s and the mumbled vowels), she WAS little Edie Beale. And Jessica Lange? Forget about it.
Using the Maysles brothers film as a through-line was a great concept. This is our primary experience with the Edies, and weaving the history behind the grainy camera shots gives us the context so sorely missing from the documentary (as well as the musical). It makes me want to go back to the documentary ASAP and watch with newfound appreciation.
From high society to squalor and tabloid fame is such a leap, and this film did a great job, in only two hours, tying it together. (I say “only two hours” as I really feel this could have been a miniseries.) Aside from the stunningly nuanced performances, I also deeply appreciated the the use of key elements to link the past and present together: Big Edie’s red, white and blue floppy sunhat, Little Edie’s fur coat, Big Edie’s portrait. I need to watch this again to pick up all that I’m sure I missed.
Some of the reviews I’ve read have remarked how this is an interesting analysis, nearly an exploitation, of mental illness. I don’t see them mentally ill at all. Eccentric, codependent, charming, smart, stubborn and passionate – yes. Their priorities were much different than what would be considered “normal”. So, technically, that makes them deviants. And that’s fine by me.