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Little Edie

The stage is set: a ramshackle mansion where two, once beautiful, women, Edith Bouvier Beale, age 82, and her daughter of the same name, known as Little Edie, age 56, cousins of Jacqueline Onassis, live out the remainder of their years. They recall better times, and lost loves, while Edith sings and Edie dances to wallow away the hours. They seem not to have a care in the world.

Edith sits on her bed among nine cats and trash, while Edie sits on the bed beside Edith’s, rummaging through old photographs and scrapbooks, showing when they were a part of elite society, and, on Sunday nights, listening to Norman Vincent Peale on the radio. Edith and Edie’s decaying mansion is surrounded by the summer homes of the wealthy. They live among dilapidated rooms that are rarely visited, preferring to reside solely in one bedroom. They use this room as an area for lounging and eating as well as for sleeping.

They have a mini refrigerator and a hot plate sits on Edith’s bed, obviously used to cook hot food. Edie leaves the room frequently, opting to walk around the grounds of the estate or to spend a day at the beach. Edith, however, does not leave the room much, and when she does, she sits just outside an entrance to the house. In the documentary, Grey Gardens, Edith and Edie are eccentric women who seem to live fully on their decaying estate. However, it seems as though neither woman is happy in her present situation.

When Edith sings “Tea for Two”, the look on her face after the song has ended suggests that she is sad, missing all that she had when she was younger. Edie resolves to leave, but of course, as long as her mother is there, she never will. This suggests a co-dependence that is present throughout this candid look inside the lives of these two women that will forever be a haunting image in viewers’ minds. ? Ebert, Roger. (November 10, 1976). Grey Gardens. Rogerebert. com. April 7, 2009. http://rogerebert. suntimes. com/apps/pbcs. dll/article? AID=/19761110/REVIEWS/611100301/1023

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