Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds (Fisher Stevens/Alexis Bloom, 2016): USA

Reviewed by Nelson Roosendahl. Viewed at AFI Film Fest 2016

Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds have lived lives under, and have been, Bright Lights. This new documentary visits Fisher and Reynolds at their L.A. home, and the whole production is centered around the Coldwater Canyon house and its grounds. All the urban homestead’s occupants are covered, including Griffin Dunne and Todd Fisher. The film uses straight cuts throughout. The sound approaches that of home video. The production is raw, like the truths it reveals.

The film exposes the often mundane daily goings on of the family, and Dunne. Debbie Reynolds stands as the matriarch of poise among the group, despite the chiding from her court, and her cocktails. Carrie Fisher’s bipolar disorder is laid bare. There is bickering and snark and ceaseless small talk full of one-upmanship.

This view into the lives of such a storied and influential family of characters doesn’t serve to diminish them. Rather, it tends to normalize how everyone’s lives are bumpy and stuttering. It brings home that nobody’s really living daily the experiences they expose on the screen or on stage or on Facebook.

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