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Storyville: The Queen of Versailles
Lauren Greenfield

Storyville: The Queen of Versailles

Mon Jan 28, 10-11.30pm, BBC4

By Phil Harrison
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A lizard has died of neglect. With half the domestic staff sacked, it’s not surprising that standards have slipped. ‘I didn’t know we even had a lizard,’ shrugs one over-privileged ankle biter. Everything about this compelling documentary is huge, grotesque and gargantuan. But sometimes the devil is in the details. No one in the Siegel family has any conception of reality, of proportion, of the standards that are applicable to other people. David’s a property magnate, rich beyond the dreams of avarice. As we meet him, he’s expounding the gospel according to George W (whom he helped get elected) while perched on a preposterous gold throne. His wife Jackie is a former beauty queen – her likeness adorns the walls of the house in a series of hilariously foul portraits. They’re reproducing the Palace of Versailles in Florida; building the largest house in America complete with a sushi bar, a baseball field and 30 bathrooms. Then, the financial crisis happens and the film turns into a schadenfreude-laden parable about the perils of joyless, compulsive consumption: eventually, a car crash in slow motion. And like a car crash, you won’t be able to take your eyes off it.

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