Feb 23, 2017 08:38 AM EST

Laughter, Love and Bittersweet Memories Shine Through In Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds

Laughter, Love and Bittersweet Memories Shine Through In Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds
Carrie Fisher (Star Wars) and Debbie Reynolds (Singin' In The Rain) were part of the Hollywood elite;  stars that shown brightly and lived through a number of scandals only to survive intact.  In 2015, Directors/Producers Fisher Stevens (best known as Ben Jabituya in the movie Short Circuit) and Alexis Bloom (Nova Science Now) made a documentary about these women and their complicated relationship called Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.

The movie had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on May 14, 2016, to critical acclaim and was picked up by HBO to run on their channel in March of 2017.  However, due to the untimely deaths this past December of both Fisher and Reynolds, HBO understandably moved up the timetable and the film debuted on January 7, 2017.  Five weeks later, it is now available for digital download and for fans of either or both women, it is well worth the cost.

Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher were America's sweethearts.  They were young, talented, beautiful, and adored by millions.  Together, they were even more appealing which only increased when they married and had children.  The romance was the stuff of legends, as was their divorce due to Eddie's affair with another actress, Elizabeth Taylor (Cleopatra).  

Carrie Fisher, the eldest child of this fairytale (ha!) marriage was thrust into the spotlight from a young age; however, she was somewhat reluctant despite her mother's urging.  At the age of 20, she landed the role of Princess Leia in the Star Wars Franchise and her life was changed forever.  She married singer/musician Paul Simon, was a regular on the Hollywood party scene and dove head first into a drug addiction.  Her relationship with her mother had become toxic by this point and the two were known to fight more often than they spoke.  Later, Fisher dramatized their relationship in the novel and subsequent movie Postcards from the Edge.

Bright Lights is a poignant and bittersweet look at these two celebrities and their family bond.  There are tender moments such as when Fisher breaks down while discussing the logistics of the 2015 Screen Actors Guild Awards Ceremony where she is to present Reynolds with the lifetime achievement award.  The concern and worry of a daughter for her ailing mother is apparent.  There are lighthearted moments where Fisher and Reynolds reminisce about the old days and laugh and sing together.  There are also heartbreaking moments, such as the look on Reynolds face when her movie memorabilia is auctioned off to the highest bidder and her dream of a museum for the beloved items dies.

Underneath it all, the film is still a look inside a complicated mother/daughter relationship and how it has evolved over the decades.  Through old videos and current footage, we get a glimpse into the world these women lived.  Reynolds seems very dependent on Fisher so it is easy to see why she wouldn't want to live without her daughter and how hard that would actually be for her.  After watching this documentary, I'm not surprised Reynolds died one day after Fischer.

Beautiful, sad, poignant, and timely, Bright Lights is a fitting tribute to two of Hollywood's iconic leading ladies and their extraordinary lives.  It's also a wonderful tribute to two talents we lost last year.  Under it all, though, it's a study of the mother/daughter dynamic and particularly Fisher's and Reynold's tumultuous relationship and how it evolved over the years to the touching finale we see in the film.

Grade: A-

Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds is currently available to purchase on all digital outlets.

About Allison Skornick-Rose

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