The Villages

Barbara, who lives and works at The Villages, is a widow. Her story is one of those shared in the documentary

A new documentary playing at the Sunrise Virtual Theater explores the reality behind the suburban bliss offered by The Villages, a large senior community in Florida.

The Villages has been described as a Floridian garden of earthly delights. A “Disney World for Retirees.” “Some Kind of Heaven” examines life inside the manicured lawns.

Every day is supposed to be a good one for the 120,000-plus senior citizens of The Villages. Residents may participate in numerous clubs and activities, including synchronized swimming or cheerleading, tai chi or golf cart parades. This large community of healthy retirees offers a utopian vision of an American dream for the retired: wide, safe streets, picture-perfect landscaping, and countless activities, all in service of their residents’ golden years.

While most residents have bought into the community’s blissful optimism, the documentary follows a small group of residents — a married couple, a widow, and a bachelor — living on the margins of the marketing fantasy, struggling to find footing inside the dream.

For Anne and Reggie, who have been married for 47 years, the difficulties that come with maintaining any long-term relationship are coming to a head. She’s at home in The Villages, but the wide variety of wholesome activities isn’t as good a fit for Reggie. As he experiments with drugs in search of a spiritual breakthrough, tensions build between the couple. His arrest for cocaine possession pushes the couple to the breaking point. Reggie grows increasingly unmoored from reality, and Anne must decide whether to stay or leave.

Barbara never planned on living in The Villages. A transplant who moved to the community 12 years ago with her late husband, Barbara had to find employment at The Villages following his death. Four months after his passing, she’s struggling financially and emotionally. While acting classes provide an outlet for her feelings, The Villages’ dating scene is more intimidating than inviting — at least until she meets a golf cart salesman and exuberant Jimmy Buffett fan who invites her into his lively social world.

Once a handyman to the stars, Dennis has floated through one relationship after another his entire life. Now, living out of his van while avoiding officials from The Villages, Dennis is determined to find a relationship that will finally allow him financial stability. But finding a wealthier woman willing to take him in, whether at the pool or the church, proves difficult, even with guidance from a friendly local pastor. When an old girlfriend unexpectedly invites him to stay with her, Dennis finds his desire for comfort struggling against his desire for independence.

Told together, their stories gently prick at The Villages’ consumerist promise and underscore how decamping in a fantasyland like The Villages can’t keep life’s obstacles at a distance.

“Some Kind of Heaven” will be available for streaming from Jan. 15 through Feb. 12 at the Sunrise Virtual Theater. The virtual theater makes it possible for movie fans to watch new release films at home while also supporting the Sunrise Theater.

To access the film, visit Movies can be viewed on smartphones, tablets, laptops, and smart TVs or linked to TVs via HDMI cables. A quick tutorial is provided on the Sunrise website.

Contact the Sunrise Theater at 910-692-3611 or for more information.

The Sunrise Theater is a thriving entertainment center featuring first run and independent films, music concerts, local theater, and live broadcasts of the Met Opera and Bolshoi Ballet. The Sunrise Theater continues to be the cornerstone of theater arts and entertainment in the North Carolina Sandhills dedicated to serving the community.

The Sunrise Theater (The Sunrise Preservation Group, Inc.) is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt, nonprofit organization. Contributions are tax deductible to the fullest extent permitted by law.

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