Wednesday, 9 October 2013
Kim Hopkins' documentary Folie a Deux - Madness Made of Two (2012) follows the story a husband and wife team who take the biggest risk of their lives and borrow millions to buy the house of their dreams. The ambitious Helen Heraty is the highly strung protagonist. The mother of seven dreams of turning a bedraggled stately home in the centre of York into a 72 roomed luxury hotel. Along with her husband, John Edwards, the pair pursue their dream. However, the financial crisis of 2008 brings a never-ending stream of bad news that rocks the house to its foundations.
Much like Grey Gardens (1975), the eccentric protagonist valiantly leads the film. Helen’s every move is enthralling, giving director Hopkins endless streams of solid gold footage. An argument with a neighbor over the placement of a wheelie bin provides one of the films most humorous moments and there are many more, particularly in the edit; the footage of the family pets, the children and the exaggerated subtitles. Admirably, the film progresses organically and without the need of a patronising narrator. The director converses with Helen through the third wall marking some revelatory stressful, emotional and tender moments.
Wonderfully constructed and lovingly made, Hopkins has found a true star in Helen Heraty and made her very own Grey Gardens in Gray Court. Hot on the heels of The Queen of Versailles (2012), Folie a Deux topically captures the zeitgeist and provides a valuable lesson in the dangerously fragile culture of both the banks and their borrowers. Helen’s idiosyncratic and quasi-bohemian ways will divide viewers but there is no doubt that Hopkins has unearthed a real diamond. If Mike Leigh was told find a Little Edie for a British Grey Gardens, this would be the result.