Sundance review: "The Queen of Versailles"
Published: January 20, 2012 01:14AM
Updated: January 20, 2012 11:19AM
Lauren Greenfield | Magnolia Pictures Jacqueline Siegel, shown here with many of her children, is one of the subjects of the documentary "The Queen of Versailles."

“The Queen of Versailles”

U.S. Documentary

*** (three stars)

Director Lauren Greenfield wants us – and by “us” I mean the people in America who don't spend money like water – to empathize with the plight of David and Jacqueline Siegel, the CEO of the massive timeshare company Westgate Resorts and his 30-years-younger “trophy wife.” (I'm quoting from the film, so don't sue me.) The Siegels' bubble burst along with the rest of the economy, because banks were no longer giving out subprime loans to customers who bought (but couldn't afford) Westgate's timeshare packages. So, as the movie shows, Mrs. Siegel has to “economize,” which is shown in pathetic (and slightly comic) scenes of Mrs. Siegel going to Walmart or fretting over their kids dead pets. Greenfield captures some compelling moments of real-life drama, and lets some of the Siegels' employees tell how the economy has hit them, but it's hard not to see the movie as a strange hybrid between “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” and “Hoarders.”

-- Sean P. Means

“The Queen of Versailles” screens again: