I’ve seen several references to the film The Queen of Versailles which comes out later this summer. Here is what the movie is about:
A Florida real-estate tycoon and his appealing, immensely flawed wife try to build the country’s biggest McMansion in photographer-turned-filmmaker Lauren Greenfield’s documentary, which is stranger than any work of fiction. Surrounded by controversy since well before its Sundance premiere (when subject David Siegel tried to sue the festival), “Queen of Versailles” veers from profound human compassion to domestic horror as Siegel’s wife Jackie wanders through her enormous but trashed home scraping dog crap off the carpets. It’s like a Theodore Dreiser novel for our time, infused with the vivid, vulgar spirit of reality TV. (Opens in theaters July 20; VOD release is likely but has not been announced.)
There is one problem with this: the home at the center of this film is not just a regular American McMansion.
At 90,000 square feet, it will be America’s largest single residence, boasting ten kitchens, a private ice-skating rink, and enough tacky antiques to make Michael Jackson blush. It’s telling that while the couple’s dream house was inspired by the famed palace, it was most directly modeled on a Las Vegas theme-park imitation of French grandeur.
A home that is 90,000 square feet is far beyond a McMansion. There are not many homes in the United States that are 90,000 square feet so it is difficult to argue that this home is mass produced. The home is named “Versailles,” referring not to some builder’s model but rather the well-known French palace. The home may be tacky and not have a lot of architectural merit but this is home is way beyond the size of anything that can be reasonably called a McMansion.
In reading several early reviews of this film, it seems like critics think this film is about more than just the vanity of a few wealthy people: the uncompleted mansion serves as a metaphor for the excesses of the early 2000s.