Bright Lights


The documentary Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds scored an impressive 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, going a perfect 43 for 43 on critic votes.  Granted, you’d have to be a special kind of asshole to trash this movie, but it’s certainly deserving of the consistent high praise regardless of it’s bittersweet timing.  HBO initially set out to make a documentary on Reynolds’ career past and present, but upon observing her genuine interactions with daughter Carrie Fisher up close, they pivoted to focus on their complex yet beautiful relationship.  Reynolds and Fisher were not just mother and daughter, but also next door neighbors, best friends, and trusted confidants.

I’m ashamed to say the only thing I knew about Reynolds previously was that she was Princess Leia’s mother.  I’ve always thought of myself as a film buff but watching this made me realize I really don’t know shit about anything BC (Before Cruise).  A captivating section of the film dives into highlights of Reynolds’ illustrious film career patched together with home videos of a seemingly harmonious family life that was anything but.  Unable to go anywhere without the paparazzi on their heels, Reynolds and a toddler Fisher were basically the Kardashians in an era that actually valued talent.


The “present day” footage of Bright Lights takes place between April 2014 and January 2015.  It shows the humorous casual visits between the two icons along with providing glimpses into what each was currently up to in their showbiz lives.  Reynolds, well into her 80’s, was still regularly performing a one-woman show around the country and Fisher was gearing up for her Episode VII role in between Star Wars convention appearances.  The finished film hit the festival circuit throughout 2016 and HBO slated it for air in March 2017, however this was pushed up to January due to Carrie and Debbie’s tragic deaths.  Aside from an in memoriam title card, it appears the film was not altered to cover that sad news, which is commendable, for that could have betrayed the lively nature of this documentary.  Grade: B-


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