Wednesday, April 13, 2016


You, or I, might think a documentary about Gloria Vanderbilt and her son, Anderson Cooper, is just more celebrity-slash-1% attention grabbing. But actually, this is a pretty moving and unique documentary. Everybody's, and  every family's, story is unique in some ways and usually worth telling and hearing or witnessing, but this mother and son have a hell of a tale.

I knew all about Gloria being "the poor little rich girl" of the late 1930s, several years before I was born, because as a boy the story was still popular and known, and the moniker was still applied every time there was a news story about her. And of course I knew about the 1970s designer jean craze she practically invented and made another fortune on, beyond the one she inherited as a girl after a long court fight over her custody between her mother, who seemed not to care about her or spend much time with her, and an aunt who seemed to have little Gloria's best interest at heart but lacked the ability or interest to actually demonstrate that in a motherly way.

But the film reveals that there was much more tragedy and drama in Gloria's life, and therefore partly in Anderson's, than I knew. And some of it moved me to feel a deep sympathy for a woman who seems to have had and still have so much of what most people think they want, but only fleetingly what actually matters to most of us. NOTHING LEFT UNSAID, by the great documentarian (look her up) Liz Garbus, is fascinating most of all because an epically wealthy but emotionally deprived young girl survived so impressively, still able to paint and draw and collage and make accomplished art at 91 despite all the losses and deep sadnesses of a lifetime of them.

In the end, the film documents how much more than any media highlights could ever capture there was and is to this mother and son's story. I highly recommend checking it out.

1 comment:

Tad Richards said...

I remember when a Park Avenue co-op refused to allow her to buy an apartment because her lover -- Bobby Short -- was African American.