February 19, 2013 — What’s going on in Hollywood – retirement is the hot theme of the moment. Witness white-hot Maggie Smith, who is starring in 2 current movies (“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and “Quartet”), not to mention “Downton Abbey”. We thoroughly recommend the former, and have heard great things about the latter. But have you also seen the 40 minute film documentary about life in a retirement community, “Kingspoint”? Nominated for an Oscar, the film is self-described as a “Tale of Love, Loss, and Self-Preservation”. The Huffington Post said… “It’s a magnificent film. It is the wake-up call we all need to understand the mindsets of our parents and grandparents as they contemplate the final stages of their lives.” We’ll provide a review of “Kings Point” here as a warm-up to next week’s article – a summary of what our members think about retirement movies in general, including their favorites.
We had heard a lot about “Kings Point” since its subject is life in a retirement community. So when it came to a nearby theater as part of the Oscar “Shorts” package, we went. Initially we weren’t sure how we were going to like it.
Kings Point is an active community that was built in the 1970’s. At the time retirees from the Northeast swarmed in for low cost, non-stop fun in the warm Florida sun. But as the residents have aged together, so has the community. It looks dated, as do its inhabitants.
The people in this documentary are not as appealing as the well-groomed actors we are used to seeing in the movies – these folks are old and not particularly attractive, they have a lot of miles on them, and they are pretty much self-absorbed. There lives mostly seem to revolve around card games, looking for a boyfriend or girlfriend, dancing, and sitting by the pool.
At first it seemed like the Director was trying to belittle these senior citizens, making them objects of pity. But later on we came to a more complex reading of the film. These were real people after all with true stories – the Director didn’t make them up.The human needs so well presented are real – just because someone is old doesn’t mean they lose their human need to be loved and appreciated. On the one hand this version of retirement life does exist, particularly in communities that are extremely homogenous by age group. On the other hand it would be dangerous to stereotype retirement from what is depicted in this film – this is one version of retirement, but not the one you have to live if you choose your community carefully.
We wouldn’t call “Kings Point” a “magnificent” film like the Huffington Post did. We could say it is an interesting slice of one version of retirement life – a version we hope we don’t have to live! Some of the (paraphrased) insights mentioned by the characters in the video do resonate, however:
– “If you’re with one of these old guys, they won’t take care of you. They can’t. They need someone to take care of them. I don’t need them”.
– “What is really important is to be near your family. When you were younger you made friends-friends. Now at this age you can make acquaintances, not friends-friends.”
– “Self-preservation is what is most important now”.
We also asked our friend and frequent editorial contributor, Patricia Kennedy, what she thought of the film. Here are some of her impressions:
“I really hate the stereotype of people my age that we live banal, empty, meaningless lives now that we are older – just hanging out and waiting for the final goodbye. Maybe the real lesson of this film is that if you let yourself be trapped into a closed environment such as King’s Point where the highlight of the day is to bake in the sun or do line dancing, your skin will turn to leather and your mind to counting Mahjong tiles. Last year when I wrote those profiles of older people, I wanted to show that 65+ should mean that now you have the time to live a fun, interesting and meaningful live if you just make a little effort. I think I’d shoot myself if I had to live in a King’s Point. As for the cinematography, the film looked like it was made in the 1950s. I guess I really hated that film and its central message.”
The film was created by Sari Gilman, whose grandparents moved to Kings Point in 1978. The website for the movie is kingspointmovie.com. Although it is generally not available at regular movie houses, you can see it at film festivals and other locations posted on the website. At some point we hope it will be available at Netflix.
What do you think? We think the idea of retirement films could make for an interesting Blog article next week. So to help us get started, please weigh in with your opinions about your favorite retirement movie. Some obvious choices might include: “Amour”, “Marigold Hotel”, “Quartet”, Gran Turino”, “Bucket List”, “About Schmidt”, “Cocoon”, “High Noon”. “Lion in Winter”, “Calendar Girls”, “Unforgiven”, “Saving Grace”, “On Golden Pond”, “Going in Stuyle”, “Harry and Tonto”, and more. What do you think about the current rash of retirement movies. What are your favorites, and why? Do you think they are portraying retirement and retirees realistically and sympathetically – or show the kind of retirement you want to live? Please share your impressions with your fellow members in the Comments section below – we will provide a recap next week if we receive enough input.
For further reference:
Review of “Kings Point”