SOME KIND OF HEAVEN – Review by Susan Granger

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First-time documentary filmmaker Lance Oppenheim travels along the pristine, palm-tree-lined streets of The Villages in central Florida, America’s largest retirement community (approx. 180,000), often promoted as “Disneyland for Seniors.”

Founded by Michigan businessman Harold Schwartz in the mid-80s, his utopian vision was “to create a warm, beautiful, secure and friendly community where all your retirement dreams come true.”

“Coming here is like going off to college,” one resident says. “You get to be who you really are.”

That’s probably true IF you’re healthy and have a good relationship with a partner to share your customized golf cart, along with enough money to spend.

Problem is: everyone doesn’t – and Oppenheim, along with cinematographer David Bolen, peeks behind the facade of several of those whose lives are far from idyllic.

Anne and Reggie Kincer have been married for 47 years, and Anne’s having trouble coping with Reggie’s deteriorating grip on reality, increasing dementia and dependency on drugs. He’s currently awaiting his day in court on cocaine-possession charges.

Barbara Lochiatto is a widow, working full-time as a rehab center administrator. She moved to The Villages from Boston with her husband, who subsequently died. Now, she is desperately lonely, confessing: “It’s not the fantasyland I thought it would be.”

And peripatetic Dennis Dean is an 82 year-old bachelor, living out of a van, hustling wealthy woman for a place to stay – hopefully with someone who won’t mind that he’s fleeing a DUI arrest warrant in California.

What’s glossed over/never mentioned is that billboards along I-75 tout the good times/good life there, amid myriad golf courses, swimming pools, and shopping centers but neglect to allude to the STD rate, one of the highest in the country.

FYI: The Villages’ demographics work out to 98.3% Caucasian, 0.8% Asian, 0.3% African-American, 0.1% Native American and 1.8% Hispanics/Latinos/Pacific Islanders.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, “Some Kind of Haven” is a sadly surreal 7. A fascinating place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.