Director: Lauren Greenfield
Starring: Jackie Siegel, David Siegel, Virginia Nebab
Running Time: 100 minutes
Extras: Interview with Lauren Greenfield, BYOD (Bring Your Own Doc) – Ondi Timoner interviews Lauren Greenfield and profiles Queen of Versailles, 7 Deleted scenes
THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES is a revealing documentary by Lauren Greenfield that follows billionaire couple David and Jackie Siegel, just as they have started building a mansion inspired by the Palace of Versailles near Paris. The house will end up being the biggest single-family dwelling in America in Orlando, Florida and every night it’ll overlook the fireworks of Walt Disney World as they close for the day.
But here’s the twist, over the two years since the documentary started filming, the Siegel empire that’s fuelled by real estate, re-mortgaging, timeshares and – in essence – cheap money begins to falter due to the US economic crisis that impacted on lives worldwide. THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES isn’t unreasonably dramatic, with the only drama being the lives of the people involved but among all the excess is the reality of it all akin to things you or I will never see. The only person you’ll completely feel for is the loveable Nanny, Virginia Nebab, who works 24/7 and has left her own family years ago to send them money.
Imagine the planning of building yourself a 30-bathroom Mansion, that’ll have everything you would ever dream of and then the consequence of trying to fight to keep it, before it’s even finished. You won’t find yourself sympathising with the Siegel’s because Jackie appears to have lost a sense of reality after years of getting everything she could ever want, even though she came from a very normal background. However, David who built this multi-million empire is honest to a tee, an absolute workaholic and his revealing truths are unexpectedly refreshing. His focus is trying not to lose everything, after spending the majority of his life building up and you can easily side with his rational thought, with a man who knows what’s going on around him – including his wife and family of 8 kids – and it’s addictive as we watch their lives consumed by the very nature of consumerism and extreme wealth.
No-one is really to blame here and David Siegel event admits that it’s own greed that has led them to this situation, they worked hard to get where they are and in some bizarre way, they’re still a big, affectionate family with an understanding of where they are, in a peculiar sense. THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES is an insight into the filthy rich and incredibly dysfunctional relationships that are equally uncomfortable and unique but overall, it’s an utterly captivating documentary unlike anything else you’ve ever seen.