Critical Condition: Bright Lights

Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds

(SoHo, 7.00 Monday)

“The combative relationship between Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher was most famously captured in the roman a clef (and 1990 movie) Postcards From the Edge, but that story was told from Fisher’s point of view. Bright Lights, an affectionate and intimate documentary produced and directed by Alexis Bloom and Fisher Stevens, gives a more balanced view of one of show business’s famous mother-daughter duos.” — New York Post.

“Perhaps the documentary would seem less poignant and compelling had its subjects not just died, or had they not died, stunningly, within a day of each other. But the movie’s plucky intimacy shines through that fog. It’s a portrait, not a tribute — though as the documentary reminds us, every portrait is in some way a tribute to something.” — New York Times.

“The film foregoes any binding narration, instead simply coaxing Reynolds, Fisher and, to a lesser extent, the latter’s brother Todd to reflect on their lives and careers. That makes it far from linear, as key chapters are touched upon, often resurfacing later at random, with little concern for chronological structure. But the relaxed feel of the access keeps it warmly engaging, and the tremendous affection evident from the filmmakers for their subjects is quite contagious.” — The Hollywood Reporter.

Bright Lights offers both an idiosyncratic Grey Gardens-style treatment of the pair with its echoes of a bygone show-biz world as well as a real-life version of Postcards From the Edge … As a film, it’s all over the place, but in some ways its crazy-quilt nature suits its subjects and succeeds as a touching portrait of a unique mother and daughter.” — Los Angeles Daily News.

“It wasn’t supposed to air until next spring, but HBO moved the film’s broadcast up after its subjects died just a day apart …  The mother-daughter bond, so monumentally tested at various times during their 60 years together, was so strong, it made a kind of sense that their lives would end in the same week. Although Bright Lights was filmed in 2015, it sometimes has an eerie valedictory quality — not just about Reynolds, but even about Fisher.” — San Francisco Chronicle

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