Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Movie Review: "Mommy Dead and Dearest" (2017)

Director: Erin Lee Carr
Year: 2017
Rating: TV-MA
Running Time: 1 hour, 22 minutes

A documentary about one of the most bizarre and unexpected murder cases in recent American history: the killing of Dee Dee Blanchard. 
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There were an estimated 15,696 murders in the United States in 2015, but few had as many strange circumstances as the one that led to the killing of Dee Dee Blanchard. Director Erin Lee Carr examines the events and situations that led to this highly publicized murder in her HBO documentary "Mommy Dear and Dearest." Carr conducts interviews with experts, reporters, family members, neighbors, friends, and one of the people responsible for Dee Dee's death, her own daughter Gypsy Rose Blanchard, who was thought to be wheelchair bound and unable to walk by all of the people listed above because of her mother's insistence.
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This is a very intriguing case that left us unsure what to think about the overall situation. We all know murder is unequivocally wrong, but there were mitigating circumstances that led to Dee Dee's death. Gypsy Rose Blanchard was a victim of Munchhausen By Proxy (MSBP). Many years before Dee Dee was killed, Gypsy was a bit of a media darling since she had told the world Gypsy suffered from several diseases, including leukemia and muscular dystrophy. Dee Dee used this fame to gain free stuff, including trips to Disneyland with VIP treatment, free clothes, free food and even a free house. She had spent her entire life convincing Gypsy that she was ill, that she was mentally slow, and that she was younger than she really was. Essentially, Gypsy had spent her whole life as a victim of abuse at the hands of her mother.
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As Erin Lee Car interviews members of Gypsy and Dee Dee's family, the audience starts to see how messed up Dee Dee really was the more we learn how she treated her daughter, even going as far as forcing her to take multiple medications she did not need in order to keep her in diminished capacities cognitively and physically. The longer the documentary moved on, the more we started to question if Dee Dee's death was actually a tragedy at all. We found ourselves wondering what would have become of Gypsy if she hadn't convinced her boyfriend, Nicholas Godejohn, to murder her mother. Trust us, we know this sounds messed up, but the film left us very conflicted. As Carr interviewed Gypsy Rose more and more, we also pondered just how much we should trust her and her side of the story. Were her actions the last resort of a desperate woman being abused? Or, were they cold and calculated out of pure malice and hatred?
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"Mommy Dead and Dearest" winds up being a compelling documentary about a rather fascinating but tragic series of event. It also boasts an intense look at an extremely bizarre mental disorder like Munchhausen's syndrome. If you like true crime documentaries, give this one a watch.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.4/10
RT Rating: 100%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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