Grey Gardens, airing April 18 at 8 pm, is also equally fantastic because of the subtle and nuanced performance of Jessica Lange. Remember the two so lovey-dovey at the Golden Globe awards in January? Well, now we see why.
When two actors of any walk of life come together and create magic, it is a special bond full of electricity. Watching Barrymore and Lange as the famous Bouvier kin of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy is dynamic television at its purest.
As inhabited by Barrymore, "Little Edie" is equally commanding, compassionate and audaciously uncompromising.
In Grey Gardens, mother and daughter Beale allows us to enter their anything-but-riches world of a reclusive East Hampton, New York mansion.
With the 1973 documentary of the same name as a guidebook, Michael Sucsy brings a story that adds layers to the mother-daughter tale. And in the hands of his actresses – Lange and Barrymore – Sucsy and Patricia Rozema's script comes alive in ways that would make the subjects of the 1973 documentary quite proud.
Barrymore and Lange age over four decades. The demands on a performer to make those ions of time in the development of a persona seem believable in under two hours is immense. As "Big and Little Edie," Lange and Barrymore form an thespian twosome for the ages. With the help of an impeccable make-up staff, Grey Gardens evolves efficiently over those 40 years courtesy of Sucsy's even hand and Barrymore and Lange lighting up the screen.
By taking the journey over the Bouvier Beale's lives, the contrast to their squalor-set end book-ended with the riches of the bulk of their history provides a resonance to the conclusion of the Bouvier Beale legend worthy of their celebrity.
Sucsy illustrates that in fact the reclusive pair did touch other people over their lives.
Not the least of which is Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, portrayed with subtle grace by Jeanne Tripplehorn. By doing so, the writer director brings a color to Grey Gardens that makes the shades of Grey ending all the more emotive.
Thus far in 2009, Barrymore stands above all actresses on television or film in her stunning portrayal of "Little Edie."
We have always known the incredible promise that is Barrymore and she has often shown it.
But in Grey Gardens, Drew digs deep and the results are nothing less than priceless.
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