This documentary about America's largest retirement community is a much more wondrous film than the preconceptions elicited by that short description may suggest.
The Villages near Orlando, Florida is home to 130,000 senior citizens, 20,000 of them single. Described variously as "Nirvana", "God's waiting room for heaven" and "Disneyworld for retirees", it certainly resembles a theme park or a contemporary outdoor mall. There's manicured lawns, old fashioned main streets and a surfeit of golf carts.
A producing credit for acclaimed filmmaker Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, Black Swan) hints there is more happening here than in the average doc, and the film lives up to that expectation, offering an elegantly shot, philisophically profound rumination on life and leisure.
It's one of the most beautiful-looking documentaries ever made, every shot a painting evoking American artists like David Hockney, Andrew Wyeth and more. Although none of what we see is staged, the images here carry a sense of aesthetic splendour well beyond that of most scripted films.
In addition to providing an artful presentation of The Villages, director Lance Oppenheim hones in on several residents, all of whom are afforded a complexity of character lacking in most portraits of the elderly.
There's married couple Reggie and Anne, struggling with restless Reggie's late-in-life embracing of drugs and his arrest for cocaine possesion. There's the quietly heroic widow Barbara, pragmatically looking for something resembling companionship. Then there's Dennis. who lives in his van and is looking for a woman to shack up with. After doing so, he laments having given up his freedom for comfort.
There's nothing like the "Aren't they inspirational?" approach that drives many elderly-centric stories - these are singular, fascinating people who make a lasting impression.
This is a highly recommended at-home-viewing option guaranteed to lift your lockdown spirits
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Director: Lance Oppenheim
Running time: 83 minutes
Rating: M (drug use)
Where: Streaming on DocPlay from today.
Verdict: This film's title says it all.