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80

Generally favorable reviews - based on 35 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 23 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: With epic proportions of Shakespearean tragedy, the film follows two unique characters, whose rags-to-riches success stories reveal the innate virtues and flaws of the American Dream. The film begins with the family triumphantly constructing the biggest house in America, a 90,000 sq. ft. palace. Over the next two years, their sprawling empire, fueled by the real estate bubble and cheap money, falters due to the economic crisis. Major changes in lifestyle and character ensue within the cross-cultural household of family members and domestic staff. (Magnet Releasing) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 35
  2. Negative: 0 out of 35
  1. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Aug 2, 2012
    100
    An indelible portrait of an American family at its most blithely macabre.
  2. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Jul 19, 2012
    90
    Schadenfreude and disgust may be unavoidable, but to withhold all sympathy from the Siegels is to deny their humanity and shortchange your own. Marvel at the ornate frame, mock the vulgarity of the images if you want, but let's not kid ourselves. If this film is a portrait, it is also a mirror.
  3. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Aug 1, 2012
    88
    Some of Jackie's dialogue is so good it would distinguish a sitcom.
  4. 80
    For Greenfield, the Siegels are a brilliant metaphor for everything farkakte about the U.S. economy and the culture that shaped it.
  5. Reviewed by: Neil Smith
    Aug 27, 2012
    80
    It's perfectly possible to like the title character of Lauren Greenfield's documentary – Jackie Siegel – while detesting everything she represents: grotesque financial inequality, jaw-dropping ignorance and appalling bad taste.
  6. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Jul 20, 2012
    75
    The Siegels make the Kardashians and Donald Trump look like tasteful pikers when it comes to egregiously conspicuous consumption, sheer hubris and utter refusal to take responsibility for their actions.
  7. Reviewed by: Mary Pols
    Jul 19, 2012
    40
    The steady wink wink of Queen of Versailles is wearing. I'd say Greenfield is exploiting a narcissist's willingness to talk endlessly about herself, but I think it just as likely that Jackie is exploiting Greenfield's willingness to listen. And to keep that wonderful mechanical eye focused on her.

See all 35 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 6
  2. Negative: 0 out of 6
  1. Sep 9, 2012
    10
    This is one of the most honest and compelling accounts of the conspicuous consumption that's come to define the cliches of America's nouveau riche. There seems to be no end to the uncomfortable self-awareness of a crumbling empire. Absolutely fascinating. Expand
  2. Aug 3, 2012
    9
    This movie could so easily have been a big, broadside send-up of the the foolishness of tasteless, nouveau-riche materialism--and there IS a good degree of foolishness and tastelessness about the building of the Siegal's version of Versailles--but instead the couple/family, particularly the wife Jackie come off as somewhat sympathetic characters, caught up in pursuing a somewhat perverted, but nevertheless understandable and common version of the American Dream (one that you can identify in countless families across the US and elsewhere) , only doing so to a laughable, outrageous degree..Jackie has voluntarily taken on the role of (college-educated) Barbie-doll trophy wife and baby-maker (if not real mother) who wants terribly much to please her workaholic, inattentive husband who in turn sees himself as the "pulled-myself-up-by-the bootstraps" bread-winner who happens to have fallen on hard times.((His apparent sexism isn't overplayed in the movie, and the reported lawsuit against him by a former employee for sexual harassment isn't even mentioned,) The irony, of course, is that the couple doesn't seem to have a clue that when the recession hits and the banks try to take away their property, this is pretty close to what they themselves have been doing to their clueless time-share clients for years, and hence they are just as subject to the vagaries of capitalism as are the unsuspecting clients (and servants) on whom they've made their fortunes.They seem to believe (or rationalize) that they have "done good," but in the end they are the butt of the same joke as the rest of us--the illusion of the (materialistic, consumption-obsessed)) American dream. And this is what makes The Queen of Versailles an exceptional movie. Collapse
  3. Aug 4, 2012
    8
    Schadenfreude - pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others. The entire audience at the screening of The Queen of Versailles experienced this feeling about the Siegel family; they are truly atrocious people. Two years ago, David and Jackie Siegel were billionaires. They had planes, Rolls Royces, multiple nannies for their seven kids, hosted parties for the Miss America pageant while David flirted with the contestants, and sat on a golden throne in their Orlando house during interviews for this documentary. They also began construction on a mansion called Versailles, a project which would become the largest house in the entire United States. It appears the filmmakers wanted to document the rise of this monstrosity of a house and display the lifestyle of the obscenely rich. Even better, these rich people liked to flaunt in front of the camera, not enjoy their splendor in private ala Bill Gates. David Siegel proudly claims he is individually responsible for George W. Bush winning the state of Florida and therefore the presidency; however, he chuckles that what he did was not exactly legal. Oh yes, schadenfreude. David called himself the 'King of Time Shares'. He built 28 resorts and an enormous building on the Vegas strip, parceled them up, and sold them 52 different times to vacationers. Then, in what must have exceeded all of the filmmakers' expectations, the recession hit and everybody in the country stopped buying time shares.

    The Siegels were billionaires and yet, they had no savings. They paid cash for the Versailles house and only later put a mortgage on it because that meant millions more in ready, liquid money. They put nothing away for college funds for their kids. In fact, Jackie stares at the camera exclaiming her children might actually have to go to college now. The Siegels can no longer keep up with the Versailles mortgage payments and put it up for sale unfinished for $75 million. The housing market just crashed, tens of thousands of families are entering foreclosure, including Jackie's best friend, and the Siegels are trying to move a $75 million dollar mistake. The realtors may not be quite up to the task of marketing the house since one of the agents exclaims how unique Versailles (pronouncing it Versize) is. Nobody is buying time shares, therefore, there is no money coming in to the company, and David lays off 7,000 employees. He also fires 19 household servants. Dogs run around crapping all over the house and nobody picks it up. A lizard dies of lack of food and water, a fish floats at the top of its filthy tank, and one of the kids exclaims, "I didn't know we even had a lizard." Don't worry, Jackie still compulsively shops to add to the ridiculous piles of 'stuff' that the kids do not even know they have. She also maintains her plastic surgery regimen. Jackie's chest has enjoyed being a a third character in this whole mess. Other than the Michael Moore type of documentaries which have a stated agenda, filmmakers are thought to be neutral arbiters. They film the action, interview the subjects, and edit it in a way fair to all the players. However, no matter how one edits the footage, the Siegels are going to come off looking like some very horrible people. David is 30 years Jackie's senior and now that their funds are rapidly dwindling away, he is starting to get tired of his third wife. He hides in his office (a couch in front of a flat screen surrounded by papers and food scraps) to enjoy being away from the chaos which his house has become. You will not envy the Siegels. They still have more money than you do, but you would never switch places with them. I walked out of the theater with a new appreciation for my situation in life knowing that most of us are normal folks going about our business and enjoy time with our family and friends. The fact that there are folks like the Siegels out there, who by the way are shocked a bank bailout did not filter down to them, makes you shake your head in shame of the human race.
    Expand
  4. Aug 7, 2012
    7
    What a refreshing film after all the movies filled with gunfire and other forms of violence substituting for a plot. If this wasn't true, you would have thought they had made it up. I kept wondering why they felt the need to build this monstrosity. But we all learned all much our society lived on debt and image when the economy crashed. I wanted to feel sorry for this family but you couldn't as they created their own situation. She is a tacky mess(I'm being polite). He is a money hungry type who I wonder if he even cared about the people whose money he took in through his time share business.I read an article in the NY Times about the film and how they are now suing the director. The house was going to be 90,000 square feet. Need I say more. Expand
  5. Dec 23, 2012
    6
    A documentary that proves some of the statements made by F. Scott Fitzgerald in his short "The Rich Boy" (1926): "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft, where we are hard, cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand."

    Frankly, I enjoyed watching these pathetic people struggle. There is in fact an inherent weakness that comes with great wealth. It is interesting to see that come to life on the screen.
    Expand
  6. Mar 31, 2013
    4
    I thought, ultimately, this was a nasty, tedious piece of work. The early part of the movie is "fun," in a guilty-pleasure, voyeuristic sort of way. But then the repetitive depictions of these people's miseries and yuchiness just feels petty and spiteful. Especially over-the-line was getting and showing on screen the couple's teenage daughter saying that she didn't think her father loved her mother. Viewer's could easily draw the conclusion themselves-- exploiting a rebilious teenager to say it on camera reflects a level of spite that's just really unappealing. Expand