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“The Villages” is the world’s largest planned retirement community, snaring its perfectly coiffed residents with slick guarantees of manicured perfection in Central Florida. Some Kind of Heaven hilariously and devastatingly digs beneath the surface to find four residents who are struggling to locate solid ground, sometimes literally. Married couple Ann and Reggie wrestle with Reggie’s deteriorating grip on reality, Barbara seeks companionship, and Dennis looks for a way out of a peripatetic existence. Late stage capitalism has never looked so good, nor has its prospects for engendering fulfilled lives and connections appeared so paradoxical, despite what appears to be happy endings for all.
Director Lance Oppenheim is less than a year out of college, but he’s built an admirable repertoire of short films documenting uniquely American misfortune. His assured approach is further developed in this startling debut, aided by a polished eye from DP David Bolen and a sharp-witted edit from Daniel Garber (The Reagan Show, DocYard Fall ‘17), using the shellacked exteriors and interiors of the Villages to chilling effect. Some Kind of Heaven takes the specter of mental illness and transforms it into probing questions about what we are willing to acknowledge, and how.