In Central Florida is a unique community.
There are over 120,000 senior citizens that reside in The Villages. The community has been called “Disney World for Retirees.” For many of the residents this is heaven on earth. They say this is not the place to come to die, but to come to live.
There are plenty of things to do and people to meet there. It is its own self-contained gated area, however, the gates are not locked. The design reminds people of many of the areas of Disney World. But for some people this is not the haven they expected. “Some Kind of Heaven” is not a great travelogue for the community as it focuses mainly on a few residents who are not happy with their lives and their circumstances.
Director Lance Oppenheim deliberately chose to focus on people rather than politics.
“I wouldn’t call this film apolitical just because it does not explicitly speak to the turbulence surrounding the 2020 election," he said. "I saw an opportunity to tell a story that went beyond partisan politics and spoke to something that I found more existentially interesting and unsettlingly relatable: the absurd lengths that many Americans go to -- especially those nearing the end of their lives -- to live inside of a fantasy. The Villages -- by design -- offers a decidedly conservative vision of the American Dream, and my goal in making this film was to inhabit that fantasy and call it into question. By documenting the experiences of those who didn’t fit into the community’s advertised way of life, I was able to explore something more honest, open, and universal about how the human struggle -- no matter how much you try to evade it -- continues throughout the rest of life.”
While many people swear by their idyllic lives in The Villages, the people in this documentary have plenty of personal problems that make their lives not the most enjoyable. Instead of finding their fantasyland, they found their worst nightmares. Dreams may come true in Disneyland, but not necessarily in The Villages.
The people focused on in this film are Anne and Reggie Kincer, two very different people with different outlooks on life. He turns to drugs and she turns to psychology to figure out how to cope with their situation. Dennis Dean is a homeless man from California who is only looking for a woman with money. He openly says she should be attractive so he won’t be embarrassed to be seen out with her. What a jerk. And Barbara Lochiatto is a recently widowed woman without money and with the desire to begin dating again.
There is no doubt The Villages is a great place for many people. These four people are not among them.
“Some Kind of Heaven” will be available on demand Friday. If you are thinking about The Villages as a retirement location, do not see this film. This is not the most accurate representation of the life there. Go see it for yourself and ask the residents what they like and dislike. Do not base your decision on this film.