Bright Lights: What to Expect From Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds' HBO Documentary

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At long last, fans will be able to watch Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds together onscreen.

Except this time, they won’t be in character—they’ll be appearing as themselves.

The two actresses, who died within a day of each other this week, are the subjects of a new HBO documentary, Bright Lights: Starring Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher. After originally being scheduled to air in March, the film is now expected to premiere in the first half of 2017.

Most of the 95-minute film was shot in early 2015. The documentary premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May and also played New York Film Festival in October, receiving stellar reviews.

Brian To/FilmMagic

“It’s a love story,” HBO Documentary Films president Sheila Nevins, who worked with Fisher on her HBO special Wishful Drinking in 2010, told Variety. The documentary is “about both of them trying to stand upright, both having their frailties—age on the one hand, and mental illness on the other. It’s a love story about a mother and daughter. They happen to be Carrie and Debbie.”

“Carrie wanted to make Bright Lights for Debbie and Debbie wanted to make it for Carrie,” Nevins said of the famously complicated mother-daughter duo. “If this was a Hollywood script, no one would believe it. They just loved each other so much. The bond was just unbreakable.”

Described as “an intimate portrait of Hollywood royalty,” Bright Lights loosely chronicles the stars’ lives via film footage, interviews, never-before-seen pictures and vintage home movies.

Deadline debuted an exclusive clip in May. In it, Fisher told the camera, “Mother and I live next door to each other, separated by one daunting hill. I usually come to her. I always come to her.”

Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd, also appears in Bright Lights. “I was [interviewed] a little bit, but not that much,” the 24-year-old Scream Queens actress told People in May. “It was more of a Debbie-Carrie thing. I’m always proud of my mother; she’s killing it right now. She’s incredible.”

Lourd added that she was especially proud of how her grandmother was portrayed. “It’s an incredible thing for people to see what a full star she is,” she explained. “She really does it all.”

The point of the project, Fisher told The Los Angeles Times in November, was to shine a light on Reynolds’ true self. “She’s never really been seen as she is,” the 60-year-old actress said. “She’s very candid on stage, but it’s still a performance…I thought we were sort of a funny couple.”

In his review for The Hollywood Reporter, published in May, David Rooney wrote, “Part of the film’s bittersweet pleasure is its observation of how the generational shift from mother to daughter shaped their conflicting attitudes toward showbiz. Reynolds still gets wistful over Fisher’s rebellion when she refused to continue singing in her mother’s stage act—also distancing herself from the legacy of her mostly absent father, famed crooner Eddie Fisher.”

Noting that Fisher and Reynolds’ “loving interdependence seems unbreakable” despite their many issues, Rooney added, “There’s no slur on their sanity intended in saying that the lives together of these fabulous originals could almost be the Hollywood version of Grey Gardens.”

After the two actresses’ unexpected deaths, directors Alexis Bloom and Fisher Stevens paid their respects in a joint statement. Fisher and Reynolds “were supremely kind human beings, and unusually perceptive. When either one entered a room, the energy changed. Quite simply, we were iron filings to their magnets. And never more so than when they were together. These women were more than mother and daughter: They were an expression of exquisite humanity in all its travail and triumph. They lived their days boldly. They sung every song worth singing (often together). Carrie and Debbie loved each other profoundly,'” Bloom and Stevens told Variety. “We are devastated they’re gone. And so very fortunate to have known them at all.”

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