Shot in old-fashioned 4:3 aspect ratio, Some Kind of Heaven shows that both comedy and pathos play best in a wide shot, giving characters space to careen through frame on a ninth-hole joyride, or despondently push a shopping trolley past fluoro-lit bottles of pinot. Share this
This poignant documentary throws open the pearly gates of Florida’s largest retirement village.It’s five o’clock somewhere – in this case, America’s largest retirement community – when Lynn, a golf cart salesperson who’s nicknamed himself The Margarita Man, friendzones middle-aged Barbara in the minigolf carpark. Several interviewees liken the experience to going off to college, or being on vacation every day. Published 10 May 2021
Share this Here’s a question: does God’s waiting room do drink specials? Across The Villages’ holiday vistas, rows of senior cheerleaders, marching bands, line dancers and synchronised swimmers gleam with sanitised uniformity. Here, it seems, keeping up with the Joneses means becoming the Joneses, and, for some, there is safety and familiarity in such homogenisation. Shallow focus close-ups are stained with bittersweet nostalgia, suggesting that the crew has clearly fermented a real connection to its subjects. A bottomless brunch of candy-coloured heartache. He’s on his way to a hot date with another lady resident of The Villages: population 132,000 Baby Boomers and counting. Serving glorious, tropicana melancholy à la vintage Errol Morris. Along the way he hits hidden seams of loneliness, confusion, regret, hustle and hope coursing through the film’s charismatic cast. Enjoyment. From van-dwelling bachelor Dennis, who’s on the hunt for a local sugar mama, to loose goose Reggie and his dalliance with psychedelics (then, consequently, the law), every character is intriguing, surprising, infinitely watchable. Aerial shots of interminable tract housing illustrate the brand of prefab conformity that residents must buy into in order to survive – psychologically, if not literally. Some Kind of Heaven
Review by Aimee Knight
Anticipation. Mixing equal parts curiosity and empathy, Oppenheim distils a suitably sour commentary on wealth, class and gender norms in the USA. In his debut feature documentary, director Lance Oppenheim mines The Villages’ manicured landscapes, searching for nuggets of bizarre Americana. Some Kind of Heaven gently prods at the incompatibility of two cherished American narcotics: freedom and comfort. In Retrospect. One even calls the joint “Nirvana”. Though the latter can be purchased, it comes at the cost of one’s individuality. “If you can’t enjoy your life now, you’re never gonna do it,” Lynn tells the widow, plainly. Oppenheim could easily pick the low-hanging fruit of these folks’ peculiar idiosyncrasies and squeeze them for comedic value. But this gated community, billed as ‘Disney World for seniors’, is far from the happiest place on Earth, even by Floridian standards. Certainly, the film is seasoned with mischief and sillies, which out themselves mostly through David Bolen’s amusing cinematography. They will not go gentle into that tequila sunset, and anyone with a working ticker will be cheers-ing to that. Some Kind of Heaven captures mortality in a bottle. For Oppenheim’s subjects, sacrificing their selfhood to bubble-world groupthink is too bitter a pill to swallow.