‘Some Kind of Heaven’ Review: Hardly an Idle Retirement

“Some Kind of Heaven,” a documentary co-produced by The New York Times, pierces the bubble of The Villages, a Florida retirement community northwest of Orlando that has grown to the size of a small city. The architecture and even the local lore foster an illusion of history.

Rather than present a cross-section of this 30-square-mile golf-opolis, the director, Lance Oppenheim, making his first feature, focuses on three sets of characters.

Reggie and Anne, married for nearly five decades, have hit a rough patch. While Reggie embraces tai chi and says he likes using drugs that get him “to a spiritual place,” Anne laments that his “sense of reality has become even more out-there.” On their anniversary, he informs her that he has died and been reincarnated.

For Barbara, newly widowed, life in The Villages is difficult without a partner. Dennis technically doesn’t live there at all. He sleeps in a van and hopes to meet a “nice-looking lady with some money.” (A guard who explains that The Villages isn’t functionally a gated compound cheerily greets drivers at an entrance without checking names.)

Oppenheim finds no shortage of visual and situational comedy, whether it’s in a slow zoom on Dennis making a poolside move or courtroom video of Reggie ineptly defending himself before a judge. (There’s little mention of politics; “Some Kind of Heaven” had its premiere a year ago, before much of the coverage of The Villages’ significance in the 2020 presidential campaign.)

But Oppenheim resists easy misanthropy, showing unexpected empathy for people who have cocooned themselves from the outside world, only to confront its headaches anyway.

Some Kind of Heaven
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 21 minutes. In theaters and available to rent or buy on Google Play, FandangoNow and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators. Please consult the guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before watching movies inside theaters.

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