Logan Hendricks and Kyle Clark’s documentary Love at a Certain Age focuses on love and relationships for men and women in their later years of life on this planet. While the film does include interviews and segments talking with a variety of different people in and around Sarasota County, Florida, it predominantly focuses on three main storylines.
First, there’s 72 year old Gilbert Delgado. Outspoken and more than a little particular about any little thing, Gilbert spends much of the film alternately denying his attraction to his ex-girlfriend Judi, badmouthing her or outright pining for her. When he’s not stuck on Judi, he works the different senior community centers looking for love, or at least a dance.
Next up is widower Max Steinberg who, at 101 years old, is an example of what we should all hope we look and act like should we be so fortunate as to get that far in life (though perhaps we’d be less likely to drop as many “mamma mias” in conversation as he does). Despite the occasional sickness or old age malady, Max approaches each day with energy and a smile, mostly looking forward to that one day a week when he can go to the community center and dance with Lorraine (who happens to be half his age and married). Nothing kinky there, Max just appreciates the companionship of the dance, something that becomes all the more apparent, and somewhat sad, as the film goes on.
Finally there’s Richard and Vi Trerice, a couple who have been together for more than 70 years and whose love has endured numerous physical setbacks and illnesses, including cancer. Strong in spirit though often weak in body, their love is yet another example of something we should all be so lucky to have so late in our lives.
Love at a Certain Age is a very good-looking documentary, and any issues I may have with the film do not exist in the technical side of the filmmaking. Visually and aurally it is a pleasant film to experience. My main criticism is one of balance with the film’s subjects.
Now, I didn’t write down “Gilbert got this many minutes of screen time and Max this many minutes, etc,” but there was definitely a feeling, accurate or not, that Gilbert’s tale got more attention overall. Whether this is empirically true or just how it feels when watching, I cannot say. On the plus side, Gilbert is extremely entertaining in his opinions and turn of phrase. On the minus, his story begins to feel repetitive; he goes out to dance, tries to find someone, winds up thinking or talking about Judi, lather, rinse, repeat. Again, he is entertaining but it does start to feel very much like, “we just did this… is he… we just did this.”
I’m not saying that the filmmakers should falsely represent a life that was repetitious in this way by making it look anything but what it was, I’m just saying that this is where the editorial balance comes in, and perhaps we could focus more on either Max or the Trerices in these instances, or take another slight contextual detour with other seniors. All told though, perhaps the film is balanced as best it can be, and Gilbert’s story just began to slow me down a little bit, so I noticed it more than the others. I’m willing to admit as much.
Overall, Love at a Certain Age is a pleasant documentary experience that takes a look at something we don’t often see addressed: love and relationships when we get pretty far on in our years. I for one never imagined that dancing would be such an important aspect of senior life, and now when I see folks at senior centers cutting a rug, my mind is going to wander to whether or not there is some elderly pick-up artist working his or her magic on the dance floor in front of me. More power to them; if I make it to my 90s (or 70s, for that matter), I hope I’m as mobile. I also hope my wife is there with me, smacking me upside the head and saying something like, “you better not be thinking of dancing with her…”
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