Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Now on Amazon Prime: The Queen of Versailles (2012)

The Queen of Versailles (2012) - Directed by Lauren Greenfield.

By Kenny Howell

Probably the perfect example of where we are in America, this is the riches to rags story of the Siegels, an Orlando family who was once building the biggest home in America, but saw things turn downward when the market crashed in 2008.

David Siegel is the founder and CEO of Westgate, the world's leader in time share properties. He is married to Jaqueline, a former engineer and beauty queen, who has mothered seven kids for Siegel, and brought in a niece who was homeless.

At the beginning of the film, they are building America's biggest house, which they based off of the Versailles Palace in France. But when the market crashes in 2008, the Siegel's finances head south quick, and the film is them trying to adjust, mostly unsuccessfully, to their new life.

The real focus is Jaqueline, who has a good heart, but can't overcome the greed for material things. She helps friends with money, she loves her kids, but, honestly, even with an engineering degree, she doesn't seem very smart. I don't know if it is a disease of greed or what, but she just seems plain ignorant at times. It's almost if she stopped maturing at age 15, which I know isn't true, because she was able to achieve quite a bit on her own. But now that she is settled into her life as wealthy queen, it has turned her into a moron, basically, just filling some kind of need with material objects. After everything has gone to crap, there are scenes of her going on giant spending sprees at Walmart, and even buying a $2,000 container of caviar at Christmas as her special present.

David made headlines after the release of the movie by sending a letter to his employees that if President Barack Obama was reelected, he would have to lay off a bunch of employees. It isn't his first time into the political realm, as he claims to have won the election for George W. Bush in 2000, and even admits it might not have been totally legal. In the film, he comes off as a man that has worked hard to achieve what he is got, and that is respectful, but the only thing that can make him happy is achieving more financial success. He even admits that he doesn't get happiness from his family and marriage, and the only thing that will make him happy is figuring out how to get rich again. He actually sued the filmmakers and lost after the film was released.

The Siegels really highlight how the excesses of our society have led us to where we are. It's not just the constant search for material objects, but also the wanting the government to provide all these things that you want, but not what other people want, so we end up overloading on everything, and then no one wants to pay any sort of taxes to support those things. But I digress.

It was a bit of a happy accident for Greenfield who was making a film about an extremely wealthy family, but in the process captured the downfall of them, and maybe the way we have lived for some many years.

The Queen of Versailles is now streaming on Amazon Prime. 

Rating: ***1/2

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