Queen of Versailles follows the lives of the billionaire Siegel family, documenting its journey from riches to rags, but the movie reaches further than the confines of the Siegel's massive home. The affecting film ultimately examines the American Dream, and reveals the outcomes and consequences of blindly chasing success.
Originally meant to chronicle the construction of the Siegels' 90,000 square-foot home (the largest house in America) in Florida, the documentary shifts focus when the financial crisis strikes in 2008. The Siegels' personal and professional finances quickly go into ruin, and they're forced to halt construction of their new home and drastically alter their indulgent lifestyle.
Perhaps what's most impressive is how filmmaker Lauren Greenfield (Thin, Kids + Money) mines the entire American experience from this one story. Both Jacki and David Siegel came from humble backgrounds, and worked hard to earn a living and leave their small towns behind: they're a perfect depiction of the realized American Dream. In the same way, their personal and professional reliance on cheap loans, and the subsequent financial ruin they suffer, is a perfect mirror to the country’s economic depression. These billionaires were living on borrowed money the same way most Americans live off of credit cards.
The film is filled with poignant moments and deftly handles the problems the Siegels face. Furthermore, Greenfield is careful not to caricature or vilify the family. Though the film openly documents the Siegels' unnecessary extravagance, the filmmaker’s care for them shines through, and ultimately creates a sympathetic picture of their misfortune.
The opinions expressed on the BUST blog are those of the authors themselves and do not necessarily reflect the position of BUST Magazine or its staff.
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