"I think I am my mum's best friend; more than a daughter." - Carrie Fisher
"You know I love you." - Debbie Reynolds
They banter and argue like most mothers and daughters do, but there is a certain aura in the late Carrie Fisher and the late Debbie Reynolds' relationship as it is shown in the HBO Documentary feature Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. Filmed as Debbie was closing her live shows, the documentary follows Fisher and Reynolds as the latter readies herself to retire from performing in front of people in Las Vegas.
It's a great inside look on the lives of Carrie and Debbie. I love how the two of them live next door to each other, which is quite an unusual arrangement. There might have been some years of estrangement between them but the love of a mother will always be there for her child, much less a daughter who has a mental condition - we learn here that Carrie showed manic depression (which became bipolar disorder in time) when she was just 13 years old. Imagine that Carrie already had this condition when she was making the first Star Wars trilogy. The relationship between mother and daughter is touching. Old home videos show the family - Debbie, Carrie, and Todd - how much they care for each other and how happy they are even amidst the controversies. It's very funny how both Todd and Carrie call their mother Debbie and she allowed it. Their may be people may have seen it as disrespectful but it was really endearing and admittedly, adorable to hear them call their mother by her name because they say it with love.
The houses of both actresses explain so much about their personalities. Carrie's is very quirky and colorful and Debbie's showcases posters of her old films and photographs on mantels.
There's a part in the documentary where Carrie explained that she had two personalities, most likely her having schizophrenia or really just being high on meth - Roy and Pam. But I love the fact that she shared a private video of her being high on drugs, traversing the Great Wall of China on Christmas Day to the world. I love that, if she was alive at this very moment, she wouldn't be embarrassed at the viewers who would see that clip and could have hated her after. It shows how brave a woman she was and how she makes us aware that drug addiction and mental illnesses exist and affects a lot of people, and that combined, can be destructive.
One of the things that touched me is that Debbie never gave up on her and her only disappointment was that Carrie never did nightclub acts like her. It was the only thing that she would have loved Carrie pursue because she actually wanted her daughter to show the world how great a singer she is - like mother, like daughter. But in this documentary, Carrie sang a lot of snippets, but it showcases how a great singer she was. She even sang a little of Barbra Streisand's Funny Girl. Another is when Todd explains that Carrie was special to their mother and hearing him say that with no jealousy in his voice explains how special their relationship is to one another.
Bright Lights is so heartbreaking. They were so alive, so animated. Carrie was worried that Debbie would soon leave them for another journey. She was getting ready to leave. But it was Carrie who went on the adventure first; Debbie followed. It's a great documentary about them and just see the dynamic between mother and daughter. There's forgiveness and love and understanding. I miss them already.
It's also coincidental that Debbie loved Christmas because of the lights. Carrie even described her as being Christmas because she was special. Both mother and daughter passed away just after the holiday as if both waited just to see the lights of Christmas for the last time. They now see, infinitely, the best and brightest light of them all.