Simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking, “Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds” is a documentary look at the tight bond between the recently departed mother and daughter who marked two different eras of Hollywood royalty.
Reynolds was a product of the studio system who became America’s sweetheart during the ’50s and ’60s despite a tumultuous romantic life. She was an eternal go-on-with-the-show spirit who is still performing in her ailing 80s as the film is being made, even if she has to get around a Vegas casino on a motorized scooter.
Fisher became an instant pop culture icon in the ’70s as Princess Leia in the original “Star Wars” films. Fighting her way through mental illness, drug addiction and a childhood addled by her mother and delinquent father’s fame and expectations, she became a well-known writer and force of nature — funny, self-deprecating, fully aware of the noise of show business while happy to be part of it.
Mother and daughter lived next door to one another, with a red brick path connecting the estates, and the camera follows Fisher as she moves from her own kooky home — a revelation of splendid eccentricities — to check up on her mother.
Mortality looms over the entire film; Reynolds is aging and barely makes it through her last public appearance. But the spirit of both women — Reynolds glowing, hopeful endurance; Fisher’s relentless wit and caustic energy — overpowers the dread.
“You know what would be so cool?” A volatile, chatty Fisher asks at one point. “To get to the end of my personality and just lay in the sun.”
Hopefully mother and daughter are in the warm embrace they deserve.
Tom Long is a longtime culture critic.
‘Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds’
8 p.m. Saturday