The Queen of Versailles (2012) – Netflix Pick of the Week

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Opening like an outrageous episode of MTV Cribs, The Queen of Versailles provides an extraordinary window into the lives of America’s mega-rich, with subjects that are an embodiment of the “1%”. We follow Jackie Siegel, a former Miss Florida winner, on her quest to build the largest single-family home in the USA. Bankrolling the massive project is David Siegel, 30 years older than his wife and owner of one of the world’s top timeshare corporations. The reason for their residential upgrade? Their current palace is running out of space for their ever-expanding mountains of stuff.

Watch in amazement as you discover that their Filipino nanny (one of an extensive team of servants) lives in an old playhouse in the driveway and hasn’t seen her son in over a decade, while Jackie pops over to the surgical beautician’s for a quick botox session. Wince at the discovery of a pet lizard lying dead in its cage, left to rot out of sheer forgetful neglect. Gasp as the family walk through the enormous work site that will eventually become their “Versailles” mansion, a building easily big enough to accommodate a large hotel.

Thankfully, there is some well-deserved respite from the torturous consumer porn. Mr Siegel’s company relies on conning people into credit agreements for timeshares that can barely afford, meaning that the 2008 recession hits the firm like a freight train. While not quite “riches to rags” (more of a “jewel-encrusted mink coats to mere italian silks” transition), the family is forced to scale back their excessive lifestyle and come to terms with the fact that they’re not as untouchable as they thought.

Lauren Greenfield’s lauded documentary is a shocking piece that deserves to be seen, exposing the greed and careless extravagance of its subjects with an intimate touch.

Written by James Excell
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The Queen of Versailles is available to stream on Netflix in the UK & USA.