Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher & Debbie Reynolds

How lucky we are that Alexis Bloom and Fisher Stevens turned the cameras on the extraordinary bond between Carrie Fisher & Debbie Reynolds.

For this HBO doco the directors reportedly had to encourage Reynolds not to turn on her Hollywood persona, but to let the camera capture the natural interplay between mother and daughter. The access is extraordinary, making for some unmissable scenes.

The two live side by side, one from Hollywood’s old school glamour, and another a rebel afflicted by her demons. But both are joined at the hip, sharing memories, bickering, singing, holding the hand of the other through adult life.

Fisher, constantly drinking Coke, remains witty, alert and raucous. She juggles Star Wars fan conventions, complains about losing weight for the next George Lucas instalment, and gives candid interviews about growing up in the spotlight and hating it.

Reynolds is surrounded by her Hollywood memorabilia (for which she became additionally-famous), constantly performing cabaret shows, worries about her appearance and, frankly, worries about Carrie.

Son Todd Fisher is also there, adding some family perspective to the women in his life, and notably to dad Eddie Fisher, who scandalously abandoned Debbie for Elizabeth Taylor (there is gob-smacking footage of Eddie in 2010, 3 months before his death). But even Todd has his own eccentricities -his wife owns a Knight Rider car and has an “emotional wellness chicken.”

Occasionally cameras are not allowed into Reynolds’ home on her bad (health) days, but audio suggests it can be a struggle just to get through the day. It’s the moments in between interviews that provide the most insight, such as a house alarm going off mid-chat. While everyone runs around trying to shut off the deafening noise, Reynolds keeps smiling, oblivious to its purpose, let alone the all-important code they need.

It all culminates in Reynolds’ Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild. Simply getting her to the venue is a saga in itself, but Fisher fights back tears to get mother to the podium and introduce her.

I couldn’t help but recall the extraordinary Grey Gardens doco about a bizarre mother / daughter. This doesn’t come with any of their dilapidation or hoarding, but it’s pure Hollywood eccentricity. And like their story, this one is also ripe for a stage musical -with better songs.

I didn’t get any insight into Fisher’s romantic history, unless you count Coke and her dog, but it’s a minor flaw in an otherwise compelling doco.

Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher & Debbie Reynolds helps us understand why Debbie wanted to go, as Todd told us, so quickly after Carrie. And it assures us their bond is unbroken.

Don’t miss it.

12pm Sunday January 8 on Showcase.


  1. This was really good. Carrie Fisher has always been a fav of mine either her writing or her far to
    limited acting roles.
    Seems she could have made it as a singer as well.. her voice was awesome.
    Yes the cameo by John Michael Howson was a treat.

  2. I cant say that I was a fan of either of the late celebrites but I do have nostalgia for the mystique of old Hollywood when the seedier side of Stars and Starlets were kept under control and out of public circulation, Nowadays the celebrities exploit themselves with nude selfies, public sex lives and relationships of convenience.

  3. Fabulous review. I’ve seen snippets of this and can’t wait to see the whole thing. Went to Carrie’s Wishing Drinking show twice in Melbourne and loved her stories in that of their mother daughter relationship so this doco will be the icing on the cake. Theirs really is the modern day Romeo and Juliet love story. Shame I don’t have Foxtel though. Hope one of the networks picks it up. It would rate it’s socks off.

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