One evening, several months ago, I looked at the list of “On Demand” films on HBO and was disappointed that I’d either seen them all or was not interested in what they had to offer. Only one title looked at all promising: Grey Gardens — with Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore, what could go wrong with those actors? Besides, I remembered hearing that it won some awards. I watched about a half hour of the program and turned it off. A movie about an eccentric pair of women, one of whom was bald, who lived in a vermin infested house on Long Island, was not my idea of entertainment. How, I thought, could this have won awards?
A month ago I thought maybe I should give Grey Gardens another shot, so checked to see if it was available to stream on Netflix. I thought that I could watch it while I worked, and it wouldn’t seem so disturbing since I wouldn’t be paying as much attention to it as I would if I watched it otherwise.
I was in luck. I found it on Netflix and began watching it. It didn’t take me too long to realize that what I was seeing was not what I’d seen in HBO. This was the original Grey Gardens. The HBO version was a remake and Grey Gardens was a documentary. It was fascinating. The real people looked exactly like the HBO version. I watched it and was really moved by the story about the dysfunctional bonds between a mother and daughter.
This morning I saw that the HBO version was back on HBO On Demand and watched it. Now I understood why it won the awards it did. If you’ve not seen Grey Gardens, I suggest you do it in this order: Watch the original version. Then watch the HBO version. Then watch the original again.
It was a good time for me to see Grey Gardens and to see what can happen when a mother is so needy that she prevents her daughter from experiencing life. I certainly don’t want to end up living in a house overrun with cats and raccoons, even if my daughter were to stay by my side.
Go, Clare, go, for both our sakes.