Bright Lights 😭 Documentary Review

Written by Thelonia

Well, it was always going to be a tear fest, but Bright Lights is a well(?)-timed look at the sometimes rocky relationship between the Mother and Daughter pair of Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, both of died late in 2016 within days of each other.

Alexis Bloom and Fisher Stevens didn't mean to time their Documentary so that it'd coincide with the death of its two stars. But that's what happened, and it makes Bright Lights, which would have already been an excellent film in its own right, a sort of way to remember these two women, whose lives were so packed with problems and love.

Certain scenes bring up more questions than answers - a memorable conversation in London has Fisher talking with her long time friend and actor Griffin Dunne about when he "relieved [her] of the burden of [her] hymen." (This comes after a Birthday gift of a clock with a blurred out penis on it) Stories of the sort are sort of brought up and then peter out, leaving a vaguely disquieted feeling. You find yourself going "Wait, what?" a lot.

Debbie, Carrie, with their soulmates Dwight and Gary.
The whole thing is sad, and not just because we lost Fisher and Reynolds so recently, which bumped up the release date a few months, but also because it's a difficult family situation. Fisher comes off as someone deeply invested in her parents, even to the detriment of herself. There's something a bit tragic about Debbie Reynolds as well. Her never-ending drive is ultimately hurting her because she doesn't let herself just stop. Todd, Carrie's brother and Debbie's second child, is in the picture but also separate from the Mother/Daughter pair. Billie, Carrie's daughter, is mentioned twice in passing and appears briefly (and mostly off-camera) the night of the SAG awards. The impression is not only that these two are deeply involved in each other's lives, but that it is to the detriment of others in their lives.

Regardless of the strange stories and relentless singing that make up most of the documentary, and in a way because of them, we can watch and be glad that Bright Lights exists, if only as a way to remember what we lost.

Bright Lights is available on HBO.

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