Studio: Magnolia Pictures
Review: Some Kind of Heaven
Remember what Dorothy said in The Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home.” Some Kind of Heaven is a documentary that takes place in The Villages, a huge retirement community in central Florida. It focuses mainly on the four elderly residents living and striving about the meanings of life, solitude, and ageism. This documentary serves as the directorial feature-film debut for the director Lance Oppenheim who offers a treat to both humans, young and old, about the aspects of anyone's living while growing up.
Here in this documentary story, there are four main elder residents: Annie, Reggie, David, and Barbara. Anne and Reggie are a married couple and are looking forward to a happy retirement life. However, Reggie had a history with pursuing drugs and it is up to his wife Anne to help him overcome his drug charge he finds himself facing. David, though not an actual resident of The Villages, is a lonely bachelor who lives in his motor home and is currently looking for a woman. His (David’s) main problem is that he is nearly out of money as he is desperately trying to find a woman quickly. And lastly, Barbara is a widow who has moved into The Villages with her husband, who died shortly after they moved in.
As the director, Oppenheim clearly made his point about these characters’ disconnect with the life they expected at The Villages. He really explains a lot about life’s purposes and other things the residents never got the chance to enjoy. This is a main, subtle message that is even furtherly well-told throughout the film when it comes to aging life. It would have been very interesting to know how many other residents found this “Disneyland of retirement” life less than satisfying to listen or to hear more from those for whom it had fulfilled all their dreams in the real world. He additionally makes the documentary film funny to watch as he provides some funnier moments on some scenes and towards the four main residents centered around the film.
Not only that but cinematographer David Bolen also did an excellent job of portraying and balancing the dichotomy between the images of The Villages’ community and the reality being experienced and told by the four main residents and other residents who shared their stories and motivation. Bolen brought some colorful, happier balances between the residents and the activities being shown in the film, such as golfing, swimming, dancing and other ones people like to enjoy. With these livelier emotions being fulfilled, Bolen and Oppenhiem knew that the themes of longing and disillusionment became steadier, wiser, and clearer with each new obstacle encountered by four main residential characters and other residents.
Some Kind of Heaven is a good 80-minute documentary film, Oppenheim and his team did an admirable job of bringing life’s greatest questions to the forefront as we, as viewers, consider the irony of unfulfilled desire in the midst of the "Disneyland of retirement". This documentary is a good film that provides moral lessons for all and it’s a must for everyone of all ages. Agree or disagree, we should not be picky on which film to select. I totally understand that documentary films are usually boring and unmotivated, but I guarantee, some of them are very interesting to watch whether you’re at home or at a movie theater that will increase your motivation.
(Review by Henry Pham)