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The Queen of Versailles (2012)

tomatometer

94

Average Rating: 8/10
Reviews Counted: 105
Fresh: 99 | Rotten: 6

The Queen of Versailles is a timely, engaging, and richly drawn portrait of the American Dream improbably composed of equal parts compassion and schadenfreude.

90

Average Rating: 8.3/10
Critic Reviews: 31
Fresh: 28 | Rotten: 3

The Queen of Versailles is a timely, engaging, and richly drawn portrait of the American Dream improbably composed of equal parts compassion and schadenfreude.

audience

74

liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 14,656

My Rating

Movie Info

The Queen of Versailles is a character-driven documentary about a billionaire family and their financial challenges in the wake of the economic crisis. 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,

PG,

Documentary, Special Interest

Nov 13, 2012

$2.4M

Magnolia Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (105) | Top Critics (31) | Fresh (99) | Rotten (6) | DVD (1)

It's priceless.

September 5, 2012 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Seriously, if this was the American Dream, couldn't we have come up with something better?

August 23, 2012 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Although it's a guilty pleasure, "The Queen of Versailles" is artful enough that both the prosecution and the defense could invoke it when the peasants cry "Off with their heads!"

August 16, 2012 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This rags-to-riches-to-almost-rags-again queen has an endearing knack for looking on the bright side. You find yourself, by the end, wishing her well.

August 9, 2012 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

"The Queen of Versailles" is funny, sad, infuriating, instructive. It's the American Dream inflated to ridiculous extremes, until it bursts.

August 9, 2012 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

More than a social morality tale, this is a character study, with the title well chosen.

August 3, 2012 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A pretty effective warning shot across the bow of the one percenters.

January 12, 2014 Full Review Source: Cinemania

Humanizes the upper one percent in a 100-percent entertaining way.

May 26, 2013 Full Review Source: The Patriot Ledger
The Patriot Ledger

Strangely entertaining and revealing documentary about a culture obsessed with money and people aspiring to a life they can't afford. Greed is good once again if you can borrow enough money to consume all you desire. Mind the debt gap.

January 22, 2013 Full Review Source: The Popcorn Junkie
The Popcorn Junkie

...their plight plays like the financial crisis in miniature. Or perhaps it's in macro.

December 15, 2012 Full Review Source: LarsenOnFilm
LarsenOnFilm

My problem with this riches to rags Americana story is that I felt no sympathy for the featured self-absorbed materialists.

November 30, 2012 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

If you've ever wondered how that one percent of the richest lives, this film will show you how one family lives (they are probably back in the 99 percent now), and it ain't pretty.

November 20, 2012 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

Both the quintessential documentary about the Great Recession, and quite possibly the most Schadenfreude-filled movie of all time.

November 20, 2012 Full Review Source: EntertainmentTell
EntertainmentTell

A documentary about a rich couple riding the waves of wealth and greed and then plunging downwards.

November 13, 2012 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

A powerhouse documentary, the film shifts from simply being a fly-on-the-wall look at material decadence and moral decay into a study of a family trying to hold itself together during a trying period.

October 6, 2012 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

a repetitive exercise in schadenfreude, and the Siegels don't do much to alter that... The Queen of Versailles leaves viewers with one feeling about the Siegels: Let them eat stale cake.

October 3, 2012 Full Review Source: Tampa Bay Times
Tampa Bay Times

Documentaries are rarely as hilarious as this one. Well, the first half of it at least

September 12, 2012 Full Review Source: Contactmusic.com
Contactmusic.com

[E]nds up an ever less slightly ungenerous look at the .01 percent than it might have been... But this is still a brutal film from many angles.

September 10, 2012 Full Review Source: Flick Filosopher
Flick Filosopher

One of the great unsayable truths about the American dream is that it is a bit of a Ponzi scheme ... our system admits a glimmer of hope that anyone, no matter how lowborn, can rise to the top.

September 10, 2012 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Extremely funny and revealing ...

September 9, 2012 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

[Siegel] is now suing Greenfield for "misrepresentation". Well, I know whose side I'm on.

September 7, 2012 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

She epitomises a Western culture struggling to wean itself off debt.

September 6, 2012 Full Review Source: Sun Online
Sun Online

Greenfield's film is bathed in Florida sunshine, adding to the sensation that we're watching Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous with a Marxist punchline.

September 6, 2012 Full Review Source: Irish Times
Irish Times

Never has grotesque wealth looked so unenviable, or its removal been so entertaining, as in this garishly watchable riches-to-rags documentary ...

September 6, 2012 Full Review Source: Guardian [UK]
Guardian [UK]

[Siegel] ultimately emerges as someone who belongs more in The Little House on the Prairie: ever cheerful, and triumphantly unimpeachable.

September 6, 2012 Full Review Source: Financial Times
Financial Times

The temptation to be moralistic must have been overpowering, yet Greenfield finally manages to summon sympathy for people who at first seem vain, selfish and greedy.

September 6, 2012 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

Audience Reviews for The Queen of Versailles

The Queen of Versailles wasn't quite the documentary I expected, indeed I'm not sure it was exactly what Lauren Greenfield initially expected or intended either. Rather than a story about the family with the biggest house in the world, what you get is a 'riches to rags' story where you find that money has had nothing to do with the quality of these peoples lives, they are in fact quite unhappy. There is a very eerie quality about this film, the family are deluded for sure but they never really come across as unlikable, even when they say some quite shocking things (and when I say they I mean Jackie Siegel). A great essay on the fall of capitalism as it happens, the delusion of the rich and when the greedy go hungry. Lauren Greenfield got lucky but convincing the family to let her film their endless gorging on junk food and delusions of grandeur must have taken a lot dedication. The Grey Gardens of the times.
January 30, 2013
SirPant

Super Reviewer

There are thousands of stories about the impact of the economic crisis going on in the U.S. "Queen of Versailles" is one of those stories, and it happens to be one of the most interesting ones. This is a documentary about David Seigel, a billionaire who runs Westgate resorts, and his family as they build the biggest house in the U.S. At 90,000 sq. ft it is going to be something unbelievable to behold. 30 bathrooms, 17 kitchens, it's going to have it all. Then in the middle, the documentary becomes something else, as real estate bubble causes the Seigels to lose a fortune, lay off 7,000 employees, and risk losing everything. Their house becomes an unfinished dream, while David searches for a way to fix everything. The Seigels aren't bad people, they actually come off very nice, and seem like genuine good people. But, they are spoiled and filthy rich, so seeing them struggle financially is kind of funny, and you don't feel sorry for them at all really, but you like them. This is very entertaining and interesting, one of the better documentaries of the year. Also, it's a movie that will make you say "wtf?" probably more than any other movie of the year.
December 28, 2012
Everett Johnson

Super Reviewer

A perfect marriage of capability and serendipity. Director Lisa Greenfield documents time share magnate David Seigel & his mostly silicone "better" half Jackie as they embark on a journey to treat themselves to the largest home in America. Because, well..., they deserve it.

Yet, as fortune would have it, this would all come to a screeching halt with the 2008 financial crisis. Jackie, who can best be described as an infant with a taste for Chinese marble, must essentially learn how to walk again. This may sound dramatic, but there are so many scenes in which Jackie cannot literally fathom a world in which she is not being waited on by the rest of humanity.

On top of catching these unfolding events, Greenfield simultaneously probes into the past of these fascinating specimens. Even with the benefit of hindsight and the knowledge that the unbridled pursuit of affluence is a road paved with fractured families, the illusion of wealth vastly outweighs personal responsibility.

That Jackie and David agreed to let the cameras keep rolling is a testament to their myopic belief that their tenure as royalty is forever.

There is also an interesting theme of junk food that pervades. Maybe this couple just has a love for hitting the drive-thru, but it was a fascinating contrast to see that even amid these gaudy ballrooms and staircases, they cannot stifle the urge to stuff their faces with filth. Trite as it might be, it is hard not to think of that old adage, "you are what you eat."

What starts as an episode of the real housewives of Orlando on steroids, evolves into a personal and uniquely American story of aspiration, excess, and the sobering reality of financial security; a microcosm of the financial crisis as a whole.
December 21, 2012
axadntpron
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

Both sad and funny. And somehow everyone in the theater seemed they needed to add their commentary, so it really riled them up.
September 3, 2012
Julie

Super Reviewer

    1. Jackie Siegel: What's my driver's name?
    – Submitted by Rolf J (12 months ago)
    1. David Siegel: Ah my step mother, the hostess with the two mostest.
    – Submitted by Peter H (17 months ago)
    1. David Siegel: If you loved me, why did you leave the lights on?
    – Submitted by Damien R (19 months ago)
View all quotes (3)

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