(Meredith Blake’s article appeared in the Los Angeles Times, 1/ 4.)
Even if Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds hadn’t died within a day of each other last week, “Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds” would have been a lovely, bittersweet portrait of a complicated yet unusually devoted mother-daughter relationship.
But given the tragic one-two punch of their deaths — Fisher at 60 from a heart attack, Reynolds at 84 from a stroke — “Bright Lights,” airing Saturday on HBO, is now almost unbearably poignant and prescient.
Needless to say, anyone who is a mother or daughter is advised to prepare themselves, possibly with waterproof mascara and a bulk-sized box of Kleenex; “Bright Lights” plays like a cross between “Terms of Endearment” and “Grey Gardens.” And yet there’s more to the film than the messy, preternatural bond between these two multitalented women.
Directed by Alexis Bloom and Fisher Stevens and featuring intimate home movies filmed over decades, “Bright Lights” is also a thoughtful examination of the ripple effects of mental illness and addiction, the indignities of aging in Hollywood. Inevitably, given Fisher’s involvement, it is very, very funny.