Drew Barrymore, we hardly knew you

We love Drew Barrymore in romantic comedies like Music and Lyrics and 50 First Dates. But Barrymore’s performance in HBO’s extended riff on the Maysles brothers’ 1975 documentary Grey Gardens (premiering April 18) showed us just how much this actor had in reserve.

Anyone who has watched the Maysles brothers’ film will remember Big and Little Edie Beale. Fallen members of the East Coast aristocracy, they lived in squalor on a run-down Long Island estate. But Barrymore’s transformation into Little Edie — she gets the smallest details, right down to Edie’s hand gestures, just right — adds new dimensions to the Maysleses’ carefully drawn portrait. Unlike the documentary, HBO’s film takes four decades to unfold: We see how and why the Beales spiraled out of society (the number of ever-accumulating cats they take in is one measure), and Barrymore’s poignant, perfectly turned performance makes their slow decline look strangely beautiful.

This post is from Observer Short List—an email of three favorite things from people you want to know. Sign up to receive OSL here.

Article continues below
More from Culture
Actor Jake Gyllenhaal attends 'Sunday In The Park With George' Broadway opening night after party at New York Public Library.
Jake Gyllenhaal Talks Taking His Musical Shot in ‘Sunday in the Park With George’