Directed by Lance Oppenheim, SOME KIND OF HEAVEN begins with the sounds of a pipe organ, alluding to funerals or church services, as the title subtly suggests. The story takes place in America’s largest retirement community: The Villages in Florida. Introduced in an overview alike a promo for a tourist attraction, The Villages is a sort of idyllic mega-city, and just as alien at times. The residents are seen participating in the many structured activities, and speaking very highly of their lives since relocating. The home meets all their needs, or so it’s implied.
The story transitions from the perspective of a distant observer, to a much more personal connection. There is a room full of women named Elaine, a club for singles, a club that’s proud of its margarita machine, golf carts in abundance, and an evangelical preacher that serves as a counsellor. The size of The Villages is never underscored, but there is a focus on some residents.
Reggie and Anne (Reggie Kincer, Anne Kincer) are a married couple celebrating their 47th anniversary. Reggie has taken an interest in metaphysical healing, and illegal drugs that accelerate his spiritual awakening and mental decline. Reggie’s alternative lifestyle has made him a bit of a malcontent. It can be comical to watch, but eventually leads to the moment that Anne doesn’t return his “I love you”. Her tired expression speaks more than words, and is seen more than once.
Dennis Dean (Self), without knowing his life story, surely doesn’t deserve homelessness in a camper van. He lives his life’s motto “Live fast, love hard, and die poor”. We want to believe that he wants to change. He’s like the world’s oldest teenager. He’s cool, but takes advantage of situations, and has the tendencies of a freeloader. It’s harder to feel sympathy, as shown by his desperate attempts to borrow money from anyone that answers his calls.
The residents speak in a way that could be off-putting. It often felt that one might need to have lived so many years, to feel and think in those different ways. A change in processing that happens when fantasies of young love, eloping and endless intimacy, have finally been sated or thoroughly abandoned. It’s natural to think that elders have wisdom to share, yet many of them continue to struggle with the same dilemmas as everyone else.
The background music becomes a little more discordant from time-to-time. The utopia, as in so many science fiction parables, does not exist. A few scenes had interesting views that emphasised how surreal it all seems. Good things come in fleeting moments for these people, and those moments are treasured while they last.
The story represents the kind of people that choose to live in The Villages, and there seems to be no shortage. It’s not a prison by any means, and assuredly there are many, truly happy residents, yet it seemed to be a constant statement about life in a gilded cage. The cage, regardless of its beauty, is still a cage.
SOME KIND OF HEAVEN is now available on digital rental services like Apple TV, Google Play & Cineplex Store.