From the Video Shop: The Boynton Beach Bereavement Club

Neil Turner


2005 - United States - 105 minutes

Writers - Florence Seidelman and David Cramer

Director - Susan Seidelman

Internet Movie Database User Rating - 6.8/10 - Link to IMDb

My Rating - 5 of 5 Stars


I'm not sure anyone under the age of sixty will like this movie very much, but since I do not fall into that category, I really enjoyed it. The viewer is treated to some insight into the lives of active seniors living out their golden years in a fairy tale-like Florida community. Those of you who have never seen such a community in person may think that the filmmaker has pulled a Tim Burton and digitally created a Disney-like set for this film, but having lived in that area of Florida, I can assure you that there are beautiful places such as the community featured in which every color seems to be enhanced in some magical way.

The movie stars a number of actors who have been in film most of their lives - some being sex symbols of the past. They show us through their considerable acting skills that they "still have it."

Brenda Vaccaro plays the happy wife of a man who is killed by a careless driver at the very beginning of the film. The driver is played by Renée Taylor using her best yenta-like character - this one bronzed to extreme by the Florida sun. Taylor's character, at first, seems too comically over the top, but later in the film we get to see an example of her true acting talent. Vaccaro's character is shattered by the loss of her husband and is at loose ends because she never took part in any of the business affairs of their life. At first, I thought that this aspect was overdone because I doubted a woman of my age (sixty-one) would have been so unaware of the everyday business of a family. When I looked up Vaccaro, I found that she is actually sixty-seven - and looks damn good, I might add. Considering the society in which we grew up, those six years between us could have made for that difference in the role a wife might take in a family.

Vaccaro's character is invited to join a bereavement group by a gregarious woman played by Dyan Cannon. Cannon, who just turned seventy in real life, is thin and energetic with - in my opinion - way too much face work. None-the-less, she creates a great character with a big heart. Her "take no prisoners" attitude toward life helps Vaccaro's character spring from her shell.

Joseph Bologna plays the "lady killer" of the group who mentors recently widowed man thoughtfully played by Len Cariou. Cariou's character is a man who, apparently, has never cooked an egg, washed a dish, done a load of laundry. He is totally at loose ends. The art director managed to create another character for the film in Cariou's house. It is pink, pink, pink with touches of numerous other pastels. It is somewhat heartbreaking seeing this man who is definitely not a pastel sitting in this house created and run by his late wife. The picture shows us how lost and at loose ends he is.

But never fear for, in the end, this is a feel-good movie, and Cariou's character is saved when the "good time girl" of the group (Sally Kellerman) takes a liking to him. Kellerman infuses her character with all the disappointment and hope possessed by a woman of her age, and is not afraid to expose her breasts to the camera, now sagging with age.

One of my favorite parts in the film is when Bologna's character is telling Cariou's character about his experiences with women he has met. He says that he still thinks of himself as a young man, but eventually the reality occurs that he is an old man in bed with an old woman. He doesn't mourn this but just considers it a natural aspect of life - a life he is determined to live to its fullest until the end.

I stated earlier that I consider this a feel-good movie. Some might disagree, because it concerns getting old and eventually dying, but for someone of my age, this film is a great shot of hope.



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Harvard Square Commentary, February 12, 2007