Title – Some Kind of Heaven (2020)
Director – Lance Oppenheim (feature debut)
Cast – Dennis Dean, Lynn Henry, Reggie Kincer
Plot – Looks at the day to day lives of residents of The Villages in Florida America, a community of retirees living a seemingly dreamy existence amongst palm trees, golf courses and a world unto its own.
“A Disneyworld for retirees”
Review by Eddie on 23/06/2021
If one were to head into Lance Oppenheim’s feature documentary not knowing that what they were about to see is in fact very real, there’s every chance that the unsuspecting viewer would wonder what type of fever dream they have managed to enter into.
A stunningly well-shot examination of life and times in a Disneyland like retirement community in Florida known simply as The Villages, the Darren Aronofsky and New York Times backed doco Some Type of Heaven is a unique and at times wonderous beast that lacks a true focus or narrative drive but offers us a chance to gain insight into what life in a “dreamlike” retirement community may look like.
Full of sun, Hawaiian shirts and more wrinkled and sun-withered skin than any human should dare lay witness too, Oppenheim and his crew follow the exploits and daily activities of a raft of Village residents that includes a lonely widow, an 80 plus year old playboy hellbent on discovering love (aka money) too finally enjoy and a long time married couple that find their marriage tested in the face of ailing mental health and of all things a drug carrying conviction, with Heaven showcasing that not all is fun and games in what appears to be retiree nirvana.
As we watch the films participants drink, dance, golf and go about their daily routines against the backdrop of the picturesque surrounds of their slice of paradise, there’s no doubt that viewers at times will be envious of what joys these folk can now partake in on a regular occurrence but their is an underlying sense of foreboding and despair that also lays in wait in this American dreamland and it’s here that Oppenheim and his film make their biggest marks on the viewer; not even Disneyworld for retirees is as perfect as it at times may seem.
One of the other huge pluses to this off-beat affair is the fact that Oppenheim and his D.O.P David Bolen capture some of the most starkly beautiful and captivating imagery that I can recall seeing in the past 12 – 18 months of cinema, with the Villages and its residents providing a raft of unforgettable images and moments that are at times magical and other times hauntingly honest in their depictions of dreams clashing with harsh realities.
It’s a shame there wasn’t more glue holding all of this magic together when it comes to what drives the film or where the tales destination is wanting to take us but despite all of this, its unlikely you’ve ever seen either a narrative or documentary film quite like this before.
Final Say –
Bizarre, wonderous and depressing all in equal measure, Some Kind of Heaven is a majestically shot documentary that shines a light on one of the most unique places in the world.
3 1/2 golf carts out of 5