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directed by David Maysles, Albert Maysles, Ellen Hovde, Muffie Meyer and Susan Froemke
THE BEALES OF GREY GARDENS (2006)
directed by Albert Maysles & David Maysles
by Jefferson Robbins "It's very difficult to keep the line between the past and present." That cast-off remark from Edith "Little Edie" Bouvier Beale early in Grey Gardens, the documentary molded from her enclosed and deluded life, is a cornerstone truth in so many sad domestic stories like hers. Every Gothic romance novel knows it, with their living ghosts rattling around grand old manses much like Little Edie's 19th-century East Hampton estate--not least Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Marble Faun, a work she returns to over and over. It's an affliction, this unstuckness in time, and it besets the aged and the ill until nostalgia becomes, essentially, the place where they live. Her mother, Edith Ewing "Big Edie" Bouvier Beale, the more insightful of the pair, recognizes it in her daughter as well as herself. "I've certainly got ideas about living in the wrong time," the matriarch says from the stained twin bed at Grey Gardens she seldom bestirs herself to leave. And then one of her many cats defecates in a corner, sheltering behind the vivid oil portrait of Big Edie in her beautiful, younger years.