Some Kind of Heaven
Ageing doesn’t get more entertaining than Lance Oppenheim’s hugely engaging portrait of a vast retirement community in the heart of Florida.
Long known as the US retirement state of choice, Florida plays host to The Villages, an enormous area of land that has been transformed into a Disney-like idyl for the aged. With a population of over 130,000 senior residents, it’s offers riches to any average documentary filmmaker. But in Oppenheim’s hands, this world is transformed into a surreal world of post-professional life pleasures. It resembles a utopian version of the American yesteryear: wide, safe streets, perfectly manicured lawns, and countless activities all in service of those enjoying their golden years.
While most residents have bought into this world’s packaged positivity, Oppenheim encounters four residents living on the margins, striving to find happiness. Married couple Anne and Reggie wrestle with Reggie’s deteriorating grip on reality; Barbara, a widow, seeks second love; Dennis, an 82-year-old bachelor living out of a van, looks for a way out of a peripatetic existence. By turns biting, tender, and surreal, the film challenges our stereotypes around aging, emboldening its characters to live their lives as vibrantly as possible.