Character Profile 4: Little Edie Bouvier

grey gardens posterI thought I would do a fun character profile today that would introduce you to a film that may be new to some of you less hard-core movie buffs.

This is unique because it’s not really a character but an actual person in a documentary.  Today we are talking about Little Edie Bouvier from the 1975 documentary Grey Gardens.

little edie7

In some funny ways Little Edie is kind of similar to Napoleon Dynamite.  Both have kind of horrible lives but embrace them with contentment.  They are both easy to please and I like that.

Grey Gardens is a documentary made by two brothers Albert and David Maysles about 2 distant relatives of Jacqueline Onassis Kennedy, a mother and daughter both named Edith Bouvier (big and little Edie).

little edie 2It’s a style of documentary that is rarely made today with no agenda, just watching these borderline delusional women living their lives.  I think it is brilliant.

little edie4In a certain way Little Edie’s life is sad.  She is living in trash with racoons, fleas and garbage everywhere.  Her mother has clearly kept her from pursuing her dreams and she has alopecia which caused her to lose her hair a difficult thing for any woman especially in a ritzy area like The Hamptons.   There is a sense she is hiding from the world and that is sad.

But with all of that Little Edie has chosen to be happy. She dances and smiles and speaks her mind to anyone who will hear her.

little edie and flagI love her description of herself:

“But you see in dealing with me, the relatives didn’t know that they were dealing with a staunch character and I tell you if there’s anything worse than dealing with a staunch woman… S-T-A-U-N-C-H. There’s nothing worse, I’m telling you. They don’t weaken, no matter what”

Isn’t that a lovely way to stuff it to the high class ladies who probably think they are staunch?  I love it!

There’s something to be said for deciding to be happy even to the point of being a little nutty.  It certainly beats the alternative.

“‘Course, I’m mad about animals, but raccoons and cats become a little bit boring. I mean, for too long a time.”

little edie3She does talk a lot about wanting to get the heck out of Grey Gardens but again it’s this sadness mixed with a cheerful exterior that makes her a fascinating person.  Tough to figure out.  A part of her seems on continuous survival mode but then another part seems like a little girl especially compared to her rather deadpan mother.

“I only cared about three things: the Catholic Church, swimming and dancing, and I had to give them up”

little edieLittle Edie became a fashion icon with her scarves and unique style.  Just everything about her was unique.  Like I said it’s a movie you can watch 100 times and come away with different conclusions each time.  Now documentaries are made with a specific agenda and the audience is manipulated to agree with said ideas.  Not Grey Gardens.  It is just an introduction to these crazy, happy women and then you as the viewer must make what you will of it.

“It’s very difficult to keep the line between the past and the present. You know what I mean? It’s awfully difficult. ”

little edie and big edieIf you want to watch a movie where every viewing you see something new and thought provoking about two of the strangest and most interesting characters ever put on film Grey Gardens is the movie for you.

Little Edie steals every scene she is in and leaves you despite all the crazy feeling, wishing you could have a meal with her and ask her a million questions. You know she would be funny, vulgar, cheerful and probably a little shocking.  A movie about both women would have to be a documentary because people would say it is too out there for fiction, and yet there it is.


Proof that the human race is endlessly fascinating.