We wanted audiences to watch the film in a more experiential and less informative fashion than most documentaries, says director Lance Oppenheim of his first feature, Some Kind of Heaven. But despite its merits, this ironic look at several beleaguered seniors living in the world’s largest retirement community Central Floridas the Villages is often undermined by this telescopic approach.
There is a difference between being less informative and less contextual. And that’s where Oppenheim, who also co-edited and was a producer (with, among others, filmmaker Darren Aronofsky), falters given the richness of the physical and emotional dissection in a place as singular as the Villages. almost require it.
A bit of history and background is included the sprawling complex was developed in the late 1980s and has around 130,000 elderly people (of which around 20,000 are single), but the film does not dig enough beneath the shiny and bizarre surface sites. Much of it relies on a slew of colorful and expertly captured images (hat tip to cinematographer David Bolen) of this retiree Disneyland with its endless leisure activities, retro-style storefronts, and well-maintained blocks. to provide editorial commentary.
As for the four-star films, long-married Anne and Reggie Kincer, widow Barbara Lochiatto and bachelor Dennis Dean, they may be representative of those for whom the Villages party-all-the-time, life-is. great, you-ever-the starting deal proves something less than heaven. But these people’s stories aren’t always intriguing or provocative enough to warrant such focus. As a result, the film can give a somewhat lukewarm viewing despite Oppenheims’ appealing viewing style, which evokes the early work of the documentary Errol Morris (Gates of Heaven, Vernon, FL).
The Kincers, on the verge of celebrating their 47th wedding anniversary, have become a mismatched couple: Anne enjoys the Villages’ social and athletic amenities, while Reggie seems to be disconnecting from reality, acting goofy, and dabbling in drugs. and oriental spirituality. When he is arrested for possession of cocaine, the couples’ marriage takes a turn for the worse and it is not certain that they will stay together. There’s so much to unbox between these two that most of the time it’s hard to fully sympathize with Anne or connect with Reggie at all.
Barbara moved to the villages with her husband, who has since passed away, and did not have the resources to leave and return to her beloved Boston. Calm and self-aware, the friendly worker at the rehabilitation center is definitely not made for the atmosphere of the community. When she meets Lynn, a jovial, margarita-obsessed golf cart saleswoman (the place is all about golf carts) who might be interested in romance, she steps out of her comfort zone to an awkward effect. , although poignant.
But what made Barbara the shy flower she seems to be? And is there really no possible way for her to blow up that popsicle rack and come back north?
Finally, there’s Dennis, an alleged former handyman to the stars with legal issues, who crouches on the village grounds, living out of his van. At 81, he has spent his life drifting in and out of relationships and is now on the hunt for a creditworthy woman he can connect with and, let’s call him what it is, moans. While Dennis isn’t a bundle of prizes and his gab gift is as transparent as Saran Wrap, he persuades an ex-girlfriend to let him live with her, for a while anyway.
As with the other characters, more specific details of Dennis’ personal story, he alone is an unreliable narrator, could have helped explain a lot and better align us with this low-rent Lothario. And really, how old is her seemingly insightful mother, whom we overhear on a phone call? And what this relationship been like all these years?
It must also be said that the phrase Make America Great Again was practically coined for this 1950s hotspot. But its well-known conservative-leaning inhabitants are never addressed. (The Villages gained notoriety last year after filming ended as hostilities between his supporters Trump and Biden reached horrific lows.) This is an intentional omission by Oppenheim, as is the ‘No mention of how the community is white, Christian and heterosexual. allow visuals to speak for themselves again.
It’s easy enough to take this vivid documentary at face value and enjoy it for the curvy curiosity that it is. And Oppenheim, barely 24, is a talent to watch. Still, this film shouldn’t stop and, who knows, might even inspire a more definitive documentary about this questionable slice of heaven.
‘A kind of paradise’
Execution time: 1 hour, 23 minutes
Playing: Available January 15 on VOD
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