The Boynton Beach Club
Joseph Bologna, Dyan Cannon, Len Cariou, and Sally
Kellerman star in a film written by Florence and Susan Seidelman,
David Cramer, and Shelly Gitlow, and directed by Susan
Reviewed by Josef Woodard
In the earliest moments of this half-endearing tale of
December-December romantic entanglements, the going gets dark.
We’re barely out of the opening credits when a sudden twist of fate
hints that we may be in for a black comedy. But no. Irreverence is
kept to a kitschy minimum as we enter into the overlapping lives of
several seniors living in the Florida community of Boynton Beach.
They learn to deal with life without a spouse in the “Bereavement
Club,” experiment with the dating game again, and bolster each
other’s spirits, all in a breezy, sunbaked, and sometimes touching
Director Susan Seidelman’s career has careened from the sparkly,
spunky ’80s films Smithereens and Desperately Seeking
Susan to work on the box, directing Sex and the City.
The writer-director has spun her new film from a story by her
mother, Florence, whose actual experience in a Florida retirement
home led her to concoct the basic premise.
Among the film’s virtues is a refreshing treatment of mature
characters, an age group normally invisible on the big screen or
else relegated to marginal status. (For the best recent film about
senior life, check out the German delight Schultze Gets the
Blues). It’s also gratifying to see actors like Sally
Kellerman, Joseph Bologna, and others in roles larger than
afterthoughts or background color.
For all of its incidental charms, Seidelman’s film seems caught
between big- and small-screen dynamics, apace with her own career
in film and TV. It suffers from the taint of sitcom humor and
feel-good sentimentality, but manages to survive its sins and keep
us tuned in, especially in terms of its non-stuffy respect for
elders. The most surprising thing about the film may be the
realization it brings that Dyan Cannon is within spitting distance
of 70. The underlying message there is that aging and loving are
experiences we all share.