NEW TO HULU! Having turned fifty not so long ago, Lance Oppenheim’s Some Kind of Heaven hits a little too close to home. In Central Florida, there is a senior community known as The Villages. Its population today is roughly 157,000 residents and is known as the “Disneyland for Retirees.” In a way, this community is too good to be true, but it seems legit as utopian heaven for the senior set.
Lance Oppenheim’s approach to his documentary is not to provide basic information about the community but bring us into the lives of a few of its residents to give us a sense of what it’s like to live there. The lifestyle at The Villages is an active one with activities like bowling, swimming, belly dancing, movies, various classes…you name it. The atmosphere is laid back. People come here to find a community and potentially companionship.
So let’s get to the people. Barbara moved to The Villages from Boston, following her husband. Soon after their arrival, he passed away. Alone and unable to return to her New England home, Barbara looks for ways to make the most of her current situation, whether it’s an acting class or joining the Parrot Head Club. Barbara has one of the best moments in the film when, during her interview, her dog starts humping her cat.
“The lifestyle at The Villages is an active one with activities like bowling, swimming, belly dancing, movies, various classes…”
Dennis is the town Lothario. He lives in his van and stops by bars looking for senior women who could use some companionship, all in hopes of finding a place to live… until he gets tired and needs to move on to the next. Dennis runs into trouble as he fled a DUI arrest in California, and now his van is targeted by the authorities in The Villages.
Anne and Reggie are married, and when they moved to The Villages, Reggie became reborn, but not in a good way. He drives his golf cart into active sprinklers, makes strange tribal yells, and partakes in weed and other substances, for which he is eventually arrested. Anne, on the other hand, didn’t sign up for new Reggie, and the state of their relationship is in turmoil.
Some Kind of Heaven is a sweet story about the third act of our lives. Death never enters the conversation. It’s about life and the living of it. Oppenheim puts together a beautiful package to tell a series of varied stories. He managed to get impressive access to The Villages and his subjects. There’s a wonderful upbeat soundtrack to set a lite tone. Best of all, the stars of the doc are all open and honest about their experiences.
As far as a documentary goes, it’s top-notch backed by his producing partners at The New York Times and his producer Darren Aronofsky. Some Kind Of Heaven is interesting, moves at a good pace, and is a nice distraction from the other tragic and dark documentaries we’re used to seeing at award time. Oppenheim presents a hopeful future for the latter years of life.
Some Kind of Heaven screened at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.
"…death never enters the conversation. It's about life and the living of it."